EXCLUSIVE: Christie’s announces layoffs and restructuring as it continues to grapple with COVID-19

Christie’s is downsizing its operations as part of a major corporate restructuring plan, sources have told The Value

Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti made the announcement internally today (24 June) over a video call, which can be boiled down to three major points:

  1. Pay cuts will remain in place;

  2. The company will undergo a restructuring;

  3. The Impressionist and Modern Art department will merge with the Post-War and Contemporary Art department. Check back for updates as we learn more.

However, it is not yet known how many jobs will be cut.

In response to our inquiry, Christie’s said: “Our goal is to continually ensure the company is best positioned to lead the global art market: serving collectors, offering a truly broad range of art and objects across categories, supported by best-in-class specialist teams. We are accelerating a series of planned changes to support our future strategy including increasing our digital activities to engage with audiences. We will be simplifying our internal structures, and as the company continues to adjust to the challenging circumstances resulting from the pandemic, regrettably having considered all options, this includes making some staff reductions. We cannot disclose any additional information as consultation is underway in the company.”

In April, The Value learnt that top executives and senior staff at Christie’s agreed to take voluntary pay cuts, while lower-level employee would not be affected. The auction house promised to repay the money when business returns to normal. 

Christie’s commented at the time: “The health and safety of our employees, their families, our clients and the community remain our priority. Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with all those affected by the Covid-19 virus. Christie’s are taking necessary steps to adapt to the ongoing situation including increased digital engagement and private sales as well as commensurate, targeted cost management measures. Our priority is to protect our teams and business and to continue to serve and engage with all those who enjoy and wish to collect art.”

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s has undertaken more vigorous actions to bring down costs, which include layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs.

The art market bears the brunt of coronavirus outbreak as art buyers pulled back sharply. The news comes just a day after German auction house Nagel announced a new ownership for its struggling business. Online auction house Paddle8 also filed for bankruptcy in March.