Sothebys prepares to reopen galleries in New York and London

Sothebys is “actively preparing” for the reopening of its galleries in New York and London

The first real test of the art market since the coronavirus outbreak could come as soon as next month as Sothebys forges ahead with plans to hold its bellwether Impressionist, Modern and contemporary art auctions in New York.

In an email sent today, Charles Stewart, the firms chief executive, says Sothebys is “actively preparing” for the reopening of its galleries in New York and London. Meanwhile, teams are returning to work in a number of offices in Europe and Asia.

Looking ahead to the June and July flagship sales, Stewart says the plan is to hold them in New York the week of 29 June, “pending the lifting of certain restrictions and confirmation from the relevant authorities”. He adds: “You will hear more about our specific plans and innovations to ensure success and safety, and we are excited about the very high quality of the sales.”

Sothebys spring sales in Hong Kong will be held from 5 to 11 July at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Acknowledging the disruption to the market over the past few months, Stewart suggests recent events could have a long-lasting impact. “There is no question that our world has changed dramatically over the last months, in some ways temporary and in others, likely more permanent,” he says.

So how has business changed? Sothebys has been undergoing a period of restructuring for several months, resulting at the end of last year in the departure of around 20 to 30 senior executives. A small number of further redundancies are expected in the coming weeks.

In December, Stewart announced he was reorganising the auction house into two “equally important” global divisions—Fine Arts and Luxury, Art and Objects. Although yet to name a leader of the new luxury division, Stewart identified jewellery, watches, wine, 20th-century design, Asian art, books and decorative art as “the key growth areas” for the firm.

In his 5 May email, the chief executive once again underscored the equal footing of the art and luxury markets. Since March, Stewart notes, Sothebys has held 37 online auctions totalling nearly $70m, including $1.3m for a Cartier bracelet, the same price achieved for George Condos 2005 painting, Antipodal Reunion. Records have been set for a print, photograph, watch, jewel, painting and handbag sold in an online sale.

Investments continue to be made in the firms retail channels including SothebysHome, an online shop where prices start at around $150, and Read More – Source