Sunday, 12, April 2015

Written by
Nicola Brady

A peek inside the world of Christie’s South Kensington

Christie's Auction House

Precious pieces of art hidden in vaults, ready for collection by collectors? Private appointments and closed auction rooms?

While Christie’s is home to a rolling collection of incredible pieces of art, what you mightn’t expect is just how accessible its salesrooms are. Christie’s South Kensington is open every day of the week, and visitors are welcome to pop in and browse their collections. What’s really special is the speed with which these collections change. They hold over 100 sales throughout the year, meaning that the pieces on sale are displayed for only a few days before they head to the buzzing auction room.

Specialised sales, dedicated to periods of art and genres, mean that you could walk through the gallery spaces to find contemporary art, installation pieces or furniture from property sales.

While Christie’s is, first and foremost, a renowned auction house, it has the feel of a modern gallery or museum, with bright open spaces and even a pop up coffee bar in the lobby.

The difference, of course, is that all the pieces you see are available for sale. And the starting prices are less than you might think. The information next to each piece displays the estimated selling price (the auctioneer then starts bidding at a lower point), which can start from under £1,000. Everyone is welcome to attend the auctions, which are a spectacle in themselves. There’s no need to sit on your hands, either. Contrary to popular legend, the expert auctioneers will never mistake a sneeze for a bid!

Christie's Auction House

Some of the most popular sales focus on interiors, which are held every month. There are also auctions specially honed for collectors, including vintage posters, Islamic art, jewellery and the like.

This year is a special one for Christie’s South Kensington – they’re celebrating their 40th birthday. They’re marking the year with a series of amazing events. On the first Tuesday of every month, they’ll be holding open evenings, where you can pop in for a drink and a series of fascinating talks and workshops by leading experts.

Each will have a different theme (travel, science and natural history, for example) but will encompass varying subjects that you mightn’t know much about, like calligraphy or Islamic manuscripts.

The evenings run from 6pm – 8.30pm and are free for all to attend. The theme for the next event, on May 5th, is Asian Art.

Christie’s South Kensington is less than a minute’s walk from The Kensington Hotel.

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Watch the video 'Inside Christie's South Kensington' below.