Future Tech

Christie’s postpones Geneva auction after website security issue

Tan KW
Publish date: Mon, 13 May 2024, 12:17 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

Christie’s said it would postpone a watch auction in Geneva planned for May 13 after its website was struck by technological problems.

The “Rare Watches” event, featuring Rolex, Audemars Piguet and FP Journe timepieces from the collection of former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, has been pushed to May 14, a Christie’s spokesperson said in a statement.

The delay follows a “technology security issue” that hit Christie’s systems on May 10, taking its website off line.

Christie’s held the “Only Watch” charity auction on Friday as planned, but the tech issues prevented online bidders from participating. The event raised 28.3mil Swiss francs from buyers who placed bids in the room or by phone for watches donated by 47 brands.

“We remain committed to providing the highest level of service to our clients and look forward to continuing a successful Geneva sales week,” the Christie’s spokesperson said.

The spokesperson gave no details on the nature of the security issue, and the auction house hasn’t said if it was the victim of a cyberattack.

The auction house’s main website remained off line as of Sunday morning. However, Christie’s provided alternative links for clients and potential bidders to view upcoming auction catalogs.

During the major May auctions in New York next week, Christie’s plans to sell artworks valued at between US$578mil and US$846mil . Its evening sales on May 14 and May 16 alone could yield as much as US$656mil , according to the auction house’s estimates.

The events come at a delicate time in the art and watch auction markets. Global sales of art and antiques were down last year by about 4%, according a report from UBS and Art Basel, and Christie’s itself reported a 25% decline in sales by value.

Total watch sales at the top auction houses fell by 13% to 610mil Swiss francs in 2023 from record levels hit in 2022, according to the Hammertrack report released in March by industry consultant the Mercury Project.

The delivery of timepieces to winning bidders, including Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT that sold for about US$5mil at a Christie’s watch auction in November, were temporarily held up by a Swiss legal dispute with the seller. That legal challenge has now been resolved.

 - Bloomberg

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