Most spring auctions around the globe have been delayed as the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic remains critical. Christie’s has just announced their decision to postpone their 2020 Hong Kong spring sales from May to July, meaning that both major auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, will hold simultaneous spring sales in Hong Kong this year.
Christie’s postpones their Hong Kong Spring Sales to July
The usual practice for Christie’s and Sotheby’s in recent years is to hold their Hong Kong spring and autumn sales in different months. For instance, Sotheby’s spring sales generally take place in late March to early April, which is also when Art Basel Hong Kong is held. Christie's spring sales usually happen in late May when the International Antiques Fair (IAF) takes place.
Sotheby’s announced their plan to divide their spring sales into two segments when coronavirus clusters were emerging in Asia during the initial stage of the pandemic. Their Modern Art Evening Sale and Contemporary Art Evening & Day Sales were moved to New York while sales in other categories will take place in Hong Kong in July. But as the situation worsens around the world, Sotheby’s has merged the two segments back together. Their spring sales are expected to happen on 5 July (second week of July) in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong citizens around the world have made their way back to their hometown as more and more coronavirus cases surface overseas. The Hong Kong Government has issued the Red Outbound Travel Alert on most countries worldwide and imposed a mandatory quarantine on all arrivals. According to the government’s announcements, the quarantine measures will be in force for 90 days until mid-June, meaning that the Hong Kong spring sales, originally scheduled in late May, will be affected.
Hong Kong faces another wave of coronavirus outbreak
The Hong Kong government has issued new directives amid a surging number of COVID-19 cases– prohibiting gatherings of over four people in public areas, closing leisure venues and limiting the number of customers in restaurants. These measures will tentatively end in mid-April only if the situation improves.
In view of the current situation, Christie’s has decided to cancel their Hong Kong spring sales in 30 May- 3 June and reschedule it for 5-13 July. Francis Belin, President, Christie’s Asia Pacific commented, ‘We have decided to postpone our keynote Hong Kong May sales to July and believe this new window creates a better sale environment. Our goal is to best serve our consignors and our clients through building successful sales for auction, private and online channels. We look forward to reconvening in July and thank our clients for their continued patience and support as the health and well-being of our communities remains our highest priority.’
Although Christie’s and Sotheby’s are holding simultaneous spring sales, they will not take place at the same venue. The Value has learnt from a source that Christie’s may not be able to hold their spring sales at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). The new venue will be confirmed later.
The venue arrangements could be related to HKCEC’s regulations. To protect their clients’ interests, the exhibition centre usually avoids holding events of the same category at the same time. For example, if client A’s jewellery exhibition is going to take place next week and client B wants to hold a similar exhibition, they will require client A’s permission.
The two major auction houses will hold their spring sales simultaneously in Hong Kong
For collectors’ convenience, in earlier years, the two auction houses held their Hong Kong sales at the same time but in different venues. In 2004, Christie’s spring sales took place at JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong from 13 October to 1 November while Sotheby’s held theirs simultaneously at Island Shangri-La Hong Kong. Ever since both auction houses moved their sales to the HKCEC, they have not held concurrent sales.
The rescheduling of Christie’s and Sotheby’s Hong Kong spring sales to July is major news to the auction world. However, Hong Kong, as one of the most important cities for auction, is still home to many other auction houses’ sales. Phillips, Poly Auction Hong Kong, China Guardian Hong Kong, Tokyo Chuo Auction Hong Kong and Bonhams have originally scheduled sales for April to May in Hong Kong. Will they decide to follow the lead of Christie’s and Sotheby’s or will they make other arrangements? We will keep you updated on the latest news.