The auction houses may be reducing staff to weather the economic downturn. But that doesn’t mean the cuts will come evenly around the world. After a round of jobs lost mostly in New York, focus is shifting to other art centers in London and Hong Kong.
The Times of London’s Catherine Boyle reports that Christie’s is preparing a much bigger round of job cuts in London:
Staff at the London office have been told that their jobs are under review [ . . . ] The restructuring programme will last for four months. Most of the jobs cut will be mid-level staff.
Reuters follows up with these comments from Christie’s:
The auctioneer declined to give any figures, and would not comment on a report in the Times newspaper [ . . . . see above] “We have begun a company-wide reorganization review, which includes the possibility of staff reductions, not renewing many consultants’ contracts and the continuation of other cost reduction initiatives,” Christie’s said.
The review began on January 12, and aims to “ensure we remain competitive and profitable in 2009.” A spokesman said Christie’s would not discuss specific numbers until the review was over, which the Times said could take four months.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Sotheby’s will not cut jobs in Asia:
The New York-based auctioneer, with about 1,500 hires worldwide, has 120 employees in Asia-Pacific, 80 of whom are in Hong Kong, where it occupies half the floor of an office block near the business district. The company also has offices in Melbourne and Sydney. Asia accounts for 8 percent of Sotheby’s sales of over $4 billion.
“It has been very, very lean, so we are not cutting anybody,” said Ching, 52, in a phone interview. [ . . . ] “We will continue to focus on offering quality, not quantity, at our auction,” said Ching.
Ching said Sotheby’s may auction wines worth $3 million at its Hong Kong sale in April. Wine is one of few categories defying the auction slump in Asia, with more than 80 percent of lots finding buyers at the city’s largest sales held by Christie’s and Acker Merrall & Condit Co.