One of the lots at Sotheby’s on May 15-23 is a Qianlong period Imperial white jade teapot and cover. With provenance to the Scottish aristocrat Hinton Daniell Stewart, the 6th Laird of Strathgarry, it previously sold at £1.75m at Woolley & Wallis in May 2011.

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Auction or private sale? No, it’s both

Sotheby’s has launched a new hybrid sale format in Hong Kong which is a cross between an auction and private sale.

Billed as “a silent auction combining the discretion of a private sale with the dynamism of an auction”, the initiative is aimed at Asian buyers in particular.

Bids will be invited only by written submission with bidders notified if they have been outbid and given a chance to submit a best and final offer by the pre-set deadline.

Participants choosing to place bids during the final 24 hours of the auction will not be notified if they have been outbid.

The winner will be invoiced at one increment above the next highest bid or the reserve if there are no other bids and a buyer’s premium will be added to the final price.

Crucially, no prices will be published, with all bidding information and final results remaining confidential. To give confidence to potential participants, Sotheby’s says the bidding process will be monitored by an independent auditor.

The first sale under this novel process is a 13-lot offering on May 15-23 titled In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces. It will feature Chinese works of art and paintings, Modern and Contemporary art, jewellery and whisky. Together the lots are estimated in excess of HK$350m (£36.9m) with pieces valued from HK$5m-70m.

Online sales timely for NHS support

Recent timed online sales organised by regional auction houses and dealers to raise money for charity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic have raised more than £42,000.

A single-lot live online-only sale by Forum Auctions on raised £14,700 for the NHS Charities Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

The artwork was by urban artist James McQueen whose pictures often focus on reworking Penguin Classic book titles. The 6ft x 4ft (1.83 x 1.22m) picture, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, had a starting estimate of £2000.

The Parker Gallery’s timed auction on, where part of the fees were donated to NHS Charities, raised £12,454.

Run by Archie Parker, the gallery put together the sale with works from other dealers and clients with estimates ranging from £200-40,000. The 77-lot timed online auction ended on April 29.

At auction house Elmwood’s on April 23, a sale of jewellery raised £15,000 for the National Emergencies Trust, a charity that is helping local communities affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Fellows’ May 14 Jewellery sale raised £663 for blood charity DKMS. It sold a necklace designed by Sally Hurman. It was hammered down at £520, above its £80- 120 estimate, and Fellows donated its buyer’s premium.

Biennale postponed until next year

Organisers of La Biennale Paris have postponed the 32nd edition of the event until next year.

It was scheduled for September 18-22 at the Grand Palais but is now the latest in a long line of major fairs to be called off due to Covid-19.

President of the Biennale, Georges de Jonckheere, said: “We owe it to dealers to eliminate all uncertainty by informing them of the decision today, so that they can enjoy proper visibility in the last quarter of this year.

“Thanks to the early measures put in place by the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, the organiser of the Biennale Paris, our exhibitors face no financial risks.”

Organisers had already taken steps to allow exhibitors to pay over four months following the event rather than in advance.

Shake-up of top roles at Canterbury

Tony Pratt, managing director at The Canterbury Auction Galleries, has been promoted to chairman. Fellow director David Parker has become managing director.

Pratt started his career in auctioneering straight from school as a trainee with Burrows & Day in Ashford.

He remained throughout a number of ownership changes and moved to the Canterbury branch of the firm (which was by then renamed GA Property Services) in 1988.

Pratt later led a management buy-out of the saleroom in 1991, renaming it The Canterbury Auction Galleries.

In 1996, he acquired the freehold of the Edwardian saleroom building, which is believed to be the first purpose-built auction galleries outside London.

Pratt will continue to take responsibility for professional valuation work.

Parker joined the company in 2011, having previously owned weaponry and militaria dealership The Rochester Armoury. He will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the business, alongside fellow director Cliona Kilroy.

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In Numbers


The date of the bottle of Gautier Cognac to be auctioned in Sotheby’s online sale Distilled, for which bidding closes on May 28. Only three bottles of Gautier Cognac 1762 remain to this day, having been held in the same family – of Maison Gautier – for generations with their original labels attached. This is the last and largest of that trio, estimated at £80,000-160,000. Another is in a museum and one sold at auction in New York in 2014.


A bottle of Gautier Cognac from 1762 estimated at £80,000-160,000 at Sotheby’s online sale.