Christie’s still owns the lease on the property, and global president Jussi Pylkkänen told ATG the company is “looking at various options”, including selling the lease back to the landlord or selling it on to another auction business.
He added: “It is a fit-for-purpose saleroom and we have not ruled anything out.”
Pylkkänen defended the closure of the saleroom and said the firm was concentrating on growing its online business and expanding overseas.
He said: “South Kensington was a fantastic part of our armour. But things have changed. I grew up there, viewing, buying and selling before I joined Christie’s. It is a sad transition but we have to move with the times.
“It was a viewing place for people in London but now our buyers are from around the world
“It was a viewing place for people in London. But now our buyers are from around the world and they view us online.”
The final sale at South Kensington on July 19 came in the week Christie’s reported a 14% rise in sales to £2.35bn across the first half of the year.
January to June auction sales at the firm were £2.2bn, a 29% spike on the same period a year ago when a dip in consignments led to a sharp fall in sales. However, the 2017 number is still below the £2.9bn figure reported for the same period in 2015.
This year saw an improvement in the top end with Christie’s reporting an increase in the number of works that sold for more than £10m – 38 lots in the first half of 2017, compared to 14 from the same period last year.
Pylkkänen highlighted its growth online with 118 online-only auctions held across the international hub last year compared with the 56 auctions held at South Kensington.
“This shows us the balance has moved from volume sales in a live auction to online. In the 1970s, the best way of creating volume was with a saleroom like South Kensington. Now that is not the case,” he said.
Pylkkänen said that although CSK was profitable, Christie’s had decided it was better to “invest elsewhere” in the US and in China.