Sotheby's, Christie's Furlough Staff; and the Shift to Digital and Private Sales Accelerates

  • April 02, 2020 15:36

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Offered by Christie's in Private Sales online, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) Cypresses and Pines, signed ‘John S. Sargent' (lower right) oil on canvas, 28 x 36 in. Painted in 1913. Price on request.

Due to the sudden loss of sales from live auctions and logistical challenges during the evolving coronavirus crisis, Sotheby’s will be furloughing 12 percent of its staff, about 200 people, first reported the Wall Street Journal. Christie’s will be furloughing some staff in Europe, laying off some contractors and will ask top executives to volunteer for a pay cut. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that a 20 percent pay cut is ahead for some of Sotheby's remaining employees in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as an additional 10 percent pay cut for executives.

Sotheby's major sales in May are postponed to summer and new online sales will be added. Christie's will push its 20th century art sale in May to June and consolidate some sales in London.

Most auctions will be online-only in the months ahead. Among digital initiatives across the arts industry, Christie's launched a new, enhanced Private Sales site. While the move sped forward with the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 64% of Christie’s clients were already bidding and buying online in 2019, and 41% of new buyers were brought in through the company’s online platforms last year.

Read more at Observer

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