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Christie's, Sales Plummeting, Plans Cuts : Art: The auction house will trim costs by 10%. A stormy world economy and the Persian Gulf crisis are blamed.

December 18, 1990|From United Press International

NEW YORK — Art sales plummeted for Christie's during 1990, prompting plans to cut 10% from its worldwide staff costs, the fine art auction house announced today.

Impressionist and contemporary art sales were hardest hit, after providing 48% of the auctioneer's record sales in 1989, the announcement said.

A stormy world economy and the Persian Gulf crisis were blamed for an 8.5% drop in total sales to $1.96 billion from last year's record $2.14 billion, Christie's said.

"While medium to long-term prospects for auction markets are encouraging, the reality today is that the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States are in the grip of economic uncertainty which has been intensified by the situation in the gulf," Christie's Chairman Lord Carrington said.

"We have, therefore, decided to take prompt action to reduce our cost base significantly enough to weather the current climate, but in a way which will not erode our ability to take full advantage of the next upturn in the market," he said.

Efforts will include 10% cuts in total staff costs with salary freezes for most senior-level personnel in addition to cuts in other operating costs, Christie's said.

Lower-level staffing will be reviewed "according to established practice and with due consideration to the cost of living and their contribution to the company," the announcement said.

Christie's said it expects long-term market growth in Europe and the Far East and has added offices or agents in Berlin; Frankfurt, Germany; Bordeaux and Lyon, France; Athens, and Taipei.

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