Christie’s to Close Second London Venue and Downsize Auctions in Amsterdam

The company is shifting its focus to online-only sales amid growing interest from buyers.

Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen of Christie's. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

In the face of a change in economic power from Europe to Asia and the US, the London-based auction house Christie’s is closing a salesroom in London’s South Kensington area as well as downsizing its force in Amsterdam, the company announced today, Wednesday, March 8.

“Christie’s continues to adapt to meet the needs of our clients and plan for the future as every business must,” said Guillaume Cerutti, chief executive officer, Christie’s, in a statement.

The announcement comes on the heels of Christie’s record-shattering Contemporary sale in London last night.

This marks a shift in attention from Europe to Asia and America; just last year, 35 percent of Christie’s new buyers came from Asia, with an additional 39 percent coming from the United States. In aligning itself with these changes, the auction powerhouse opened flagship locations in Shanghai and Beijing in 2013 and 2016, and plans to open a Los Angeles gallery in April.

CSK, the London second location’s moniker, has been operating since 1975, yet scaled back its live auctions this past year, holding only 56 live auctions as compared to the 125 it held in the previous four years. Auctions at Christie’s Amsterdam will be decreased to one or two sales of 20th-century art per year.

The new plans could potentially see the layoffs of 250 employees, or 12 percent of the total work force, with Britain taking the biggest hit.

In the place of live auctions, Christie’s has begun to emphasize its online auctions, hosting 118 online-only events over 19 categories in 2016. Though these sales totaled about $217 million, they managed to bring in a third of the auction house’s new buyers.

“Following our success in leading the development of online-only art sales and growing our global client base through our investments in Asia and other regions, we are considering shifting more sales into our key regional hubs and online,” Cerruti confirmed in a statement.

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