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Fine Art Auction House in London

London is one of the most diverse cities in Europe. In addition to its economic dynamism, the capital also enjoys considerable cultural influence.

The hegemony of Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London

Sotheby’s London
Sotheby’s in London

London has become the venue for some of the largest and most important auctions in the world. This is perhaps due to the incredible amount of art fairs and critical museum retrospectives that come here. Although China is the dominant force, Sotheby’s and Christie’s have managed to maintain an undeniable dominance on the London auction house scene. Their ability to cover a wide range of the art market, while being able to offer quality works and exceptional services, easily makes them the reference houses for most dealers and collectors. Therefore, whatever the nature of the auction, these two giants are likely to achieve very good results.

Competition from Philips

Philips Londres
Philips, London

Last year, the Phillips auction house stood up to the two giants. The excitement could be felt in the London premises of Phillips, the challenger of Christie’s and Sotheby’s: last March, the auction house knew it was playing big. The directors of the house were not disappointed, since the flagship painting of the sale tripled its estimates: “La Dormeuse”, made by Picasso in 1932, was sold for 41.8 million pounds with expenses, or 47 million euros, propelling the auction to a historic level for Phillips: 109.9 million euros, or seven times the total of its spring 2017 sale. A wealthy art lover won the auction over New York gallery owner Brett Gory, bidding higher for one of his clients. Phillips, owned by the Russian luxury group Mercury, showed its ability to play in the big league without outbidding the sellers’ guarantees, since neither “La Dormeuse” nor its second major lot, a “Nu couché” from Matisse sold for 16.7 million euros, benefited from it. If Philips won in London against the two giants, there are also other less famous auction houses, but which have their place on the market.

Less well known, but more specialised English auction houses

Chiswick Auctions
Chiswick Auctions, London

These main houses are C & C Gallery, Charles Miller ltd, Chiswick Auctions, Christophe Auctions, Lyon & Turnbull, MacDougall’s, Maxim Boxer & Co Limited, Modern Art Auctions, Roseberys London, The Cabinet Rooms. For houses that do not have the resources to compete with the first four, the ability to make a name for themselves on the London art auction scene requires an edge, a differentiation.

For example, Mac Dougall’s is the only art auction house to specialise exclusively in Russian art. The biannual sales at Russian Art Week in London in June and December feature works by Russian masters from the 19th to 21st centuries, works on paper, icons and artworks. It is the first international auction house with a representative in Moscow and Kiev.

Ultimately, the market power and success of any house rests solely with the buyer, who is guided by the art being sold. For this particular reason, Christie’s and Sotheby’s are likely to remain strong for years to come, but the guiding strategies of other London auction houses prove that they have a place in this market.

The right selection of the auction house is strategic for the success of a sale. Our experts are at your disposal to assist you in selecting the right London auction house (or not) and thus achieve the the sale of your exceptional painting or object in the best conditions.

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