Financial Collapse RSS

Jan 12, 2009

Christie’s to Cut Jobs as Crisis Cuts Auction Sales

Christie’s International will cut jobs as the financial crisis damps demand for art.

The London-based auction house plans “a companywide reorganization which includes significant staff reductions,” Christie’s said in an e-mailed statement today.

“There’s a consultation process going on at the moment, so we’re not in a position to comment on numbers,” Alexandra Buxton, Christie’s European head of public relations, said in a telephone interview. She said that Christie’s employs about 2,100 people worldwide.

The proportion of lots selling at auction -- and prices -- dropped at Christie’s, as well as at Sotheby’s and Bonhams’s pre-Christmas events in London. November sales in New York ended with almost a third of the lots failing to sell. Sotheby’s on Dec. 4 said that its board approved job cuts that will reduce salaries and other related costs by $7 million in 2009.

“We’ll be doing this restructuring over the next three to four months,” Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie’s European operations, said in an interview. “We are not going to revise our auction schedules for any of the main markets.”

Christie’s won’t be renewing many consultants’ contracts and will make other cost cuts to “ensure we remain competitive and profitable in 2009,” the company said in the email. The staff reductions will be global.

Christie’s had said in December it was reviewing its strategic plans because of economic weakness and the results at its autumn auctions. It has already shrunk its London-based wine and book departments, and closed its modern and sporting-gun section, resulting in five employees leaving the company.

Sale Speculation

The auction house hasn’t commented on speculation in the blog and London Evening Standard that owner Francois Pinault was considering selling the company. Pinault’s holding company, Artemis SA, bought Christie’s in May 1998 for $1.2 billion.

“We are not considering selling the company,” said Anne- France Malrieu, of the Image Sept public-relations company, in an email on behalf of Artemis.

In November in New York, 12 guaranteed works with a combined low estimate of $48 million failed to sell at Christie’s contemporary-art auction. As a result of these and other unsuccessful guarantees Christie’s has said it will no longer be offering minimum prices to sellers.

Sotheby’s in London declined to release details of its own restructuring plans, according to Matthew Weigman, a spokesman, contacted this morning by telephone.

“Bonhams are looking at this area as well,” Julian Roup, head of that London-based auction house’s press office, said today in a telephone interview. He wouldn’t confirm or deny that the company had made job cuts.

Source : Bloomberg
[tags : ]


Related Posts with Thumbnails