Located in West Kensington, just next to the Olympia London exhibition centre, the collective founded by antique arms, armour and militaria specialist Thomas Del Mar in 2007 will stay at the same site.
The firm involves more than 20 individual specialists. Up to now, under the ‘25 Blythe Road’ banner, some of those specialists have run their own, separate auctions under one roof, such as Matthew Barton and Harry Moore-Gwyn.
Del Mar says: “Olympia Auctions provides a clear brand to showcase our broad expertise and considerable experience in a large number of highly specialised fields. By combining the existing businesses at 25 Blythe Road we are now able to consolidate much of our administrative efforts and give visitors to our website a greater level of service.
“Our new website, www.OlympiaAuctions.com, presents the visitor with a significantly improved journey with a number of new and enhanced functions. Over 10 years of auctions are fully searchable at no charge; pre-sale condition reports and images are more user friendly and direct online commission bidding are among the new features.
“We recognise that our online presence is as important as our physical presence and we are looking forward to welcoming old and newcomers to our saleroom at 25 Blythe Road as well as the new site.”
Barton holds dedicated sales in European and Asian works of art. His auction firm was founded in 2009 and he has over 20 years' experience in the business, starting as a specialist at Sotheby's Bond Street silver department.
He left London to run the antique sales of a Nairobi-based auction business and then spent two years as a freelance valuation specialist in silver and works of art on the West Coast of America. Returning to Sotheby's in 1996 he became a deputy director, heading its Olympia valuations department – a stone’s throw from 25 Blythe Road.
Moore-Gwyn specialises in British and Continental pictures, particularly 20th century British pictures. He recently curated the Kenneth Rowntree exhibition at Pallant House Gallery and the Fry Art Gallery. His publication Henry Lamb: Out of the Shadows was published alongside the exhibition of the same name in 2018.
Among the other specialists involved is Arthur Millner, an expert in Indian, Islamic, south-east Asian and Himalayan works of art, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the auction world. He started his career in the art world at Sotheby's in 1985, eventually taking charge of its Indian, Himalayan and south-east Asian auctions in London. Millner has also spent time as a dealer in the field and is on the vetting committees of several major art and antique fairs.
John Culme is a specialist in silver and works of art. He joined the silver and jewellery department at Sotheby’s in 1964 and is the author of a number of books including The Directory of Gold and Silversmiths, Jewellers and Allied Traders.
Ian Eaves specialises in antique arms and armour. He was formerly keeper of armour at the Royal Armouries and has published several books including Arms and Armour in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen.
Chinese and Japanese works of art specialist Seonaid Maclean-Bristol started her career in 1994 at Phillips as specialist in ceramics and Oriental works of art. In 2001 she joined Sotheby’s as senior Chinese art specialist where she oversaw a number of important sales and the inaugural 20th century Asian Art Sale.
Sachiko Hori, expert in Japanese works of art, worked in Christie’s and Sotheby’s as a lead specialist in Japanese art before forming Sachiko Hori Fine Art in 2009 and working as an independent consultant and specialist in Japanese art. Sachiko vets a number of international art fairs including Arts of Asia Pacific, The International Fine Art and Antiques Fair and TEFAF New York.
Specialist Clive Sinclaire has been a collector of Japanese swords and armour for over 50 years. He has published two books on the subject including Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior.
Peter Arney, specialist in European ceramics and glass, has over 40 years’ experience in the field and was previously head of Sotheby’s European ceramics and works of art department. He later became managing director of Sotheby’s France. Peter is a member of the English Ceramic Circle, Society of Automotive Historians, Keramik Freunde der Schweiz and the French Porcelain Society.
Philip Howell, European ceramics and glass, has been a specialist ceramics valuer and auctioneer for most of his career including 30 years at Sotheby’s, where he was head of the European ceramics and glass department. He has served on the vetting committee at the London Olympia antiques fair.
Anabel Yorke has previously worked as a jewellery specialist at Phillips, Bond Street and Sotheby’s, where she ran the jewellery department in their west London saleroom in Olympia.
The new website olympiaauctions.com will be live today: Tuesday, January 29.
Charles Miller sales
Maritime and scientific specialist Charles Miller will hold his sales at 25 Blythe Road, as before, but will continue to operate independently from his office also in west London, in Imperial Road, Fulham.
Del Mar was formerly head of Sotheby's worldwide department of arms, armour and militaria and assisted Sotheby's with sales in London, New York, Denmark, Zurich, Billingshurst and Hanover.
He established The Antique Arms Fair in September 2017 at the next-door Olympia London exhibition centre. The next event, on March 2, will now incorporate another key London collecting event, the long-running Park Lane Arms Fair.
Olympia auction world
In a nostalgic sense, Olympia Auctions is a nod towards sales being held again under an ‘Olympia’ banner.
Sotheby’s Olympia opened in September 2001, involving the Japanese department, ceramics and glass, silver and vertu, clocks, watches, fashion and textiles, rugs and carpets, scientific instruments, sporting memorabilia and rock and roll and entertainment memorabilia.
Sales of furniture and paintings, applied art and works of art were divided between Olympia and New Bond Street. Tim Wonnacott was joint Sotheby’s Olympia and Sotheby's South (Billingshurst, where Summers Place Auctions is now based) chairman, with Paul Sumner as managing director.
It aimed at the middle market, but auctions had ended there by the end of 2007 – falling victim to the same sort of financial pressures and change to a higher-end market focus that spelled the end for the Christie’s South Kensington saleroom in 2017.