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SOTHEBY’S have secured their future at Olympia with a new ten-year lease. It means the end to any plans for a casino on the site for the foreseeable future.

Sotheby’s Olympia managing director Michael Bing said they were very pleased to be staying on the Olympia 2 site, adding that the operation had returned good revenues since opening in 2001.

The shadow of the casino proposals by MGM cast much uncertainty over the possible renewal of Sotheby’s lease, which had been due to expire towards the end of next year.

In a December 2003 ATG interview, Sotheby’s chief executive Robin Woodhead said that whatever happened with the casino plans at Olympia, his company were committed to maintaining two salerooms in London. “We looked at 141 places before we chose Olympia,” he said then. “We had to have a big space, without columns, at a reasonable cost.” Finding another such space in London was not a prospect he relished. Now he does not have to.

Anthony Lyons, chief executive of Earls Court & Olympia, said: “This deal signals our joint commitment to Olympia 2 and means that we will not be progressing with our plans to develop a regional casino in partnership with MGM at Olympia, at this time.”

He added that the decision to shelve the casino plans was made “because of the current lack of clarity over government regulations and that the Sotheby’s operation has been, and will remain very successful in this prime location”.

Sotheby’s have improved their performance at Olympia after a launch that was blighted by ongoing local roadworks and the failure of negotiations, via Earls Court & Olympia, to improve rail and underground services to the venue. The resulting traffic jams in the area made it much more time consuming for the trade, used to doing business in West End rooms, to attend sales.

However, by introducing a more selective sales programme and a minimum lot value of £1000, the auction house have been able to rein in costs while maintaining and even growing revenues.