■ The year opens with a lockdown in the devolved nations of the UK and the Republic of Ireland as tighter Covid-19 rules take effect. Fairs and markets are closed while shops and auction houses trade online. Many other countries face a similar situation.
■ Annual totals announced for 2020 reveal that sales at Sotheby’s reached $5bn (£3.6m) – above the $4.4bn total at Christie’s.
■ TEFAF Maastricht announces its March fair will be postponed until September, a date that it later has to cancel due to Covid-19.
■ ATG reveals that Brexit will not lead to the cancellation of Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) regulations under the trade deal that came into effect this month.
■ A gold pattern broad or 50 shilling piece sets a record for a Cromwellian coin when it sells for £380,000 at Dix Noonan Webb.
■ BADA appoints Kathryn Singer director of strategy and operations as part of a management shake-up whereby it will no longer have a chief executive.
■ The Anti-Money Laundering Act 2020 (AMLA) is passed in Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in the US on January 1. Among the changes in this AMLA is that antiquities dealers, advisers and consultants have been added to the definition of “financial institutions” that are subject to anti-money laundering rules.
■ In a move that upsets many researchers, Christie’s announces it has ended external access to its library.
■ A Supreme Court ruling allows thousands of small businesses to receive insurance pay-outs covering losses from the first national coronavirus lockdown.
■ The venerable Chelsea Antiques Fair is acquired by online dealing platform 2Covet.com. Caroline Penman had run the 70-year-old event at the Chelsea Old Town Hall since the early 1980s.
■ US art dealer Richard L Feigen dies at the age of 90.
■ The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia 2021 scheduled for June is cancelled.
■ Despite the near absence of face-to-face trading, ATG reports 2020 was a record year for London’s coins and medals auction houses with combined total sales just shy of £53m.
■ ATG’s parent company, Auction Technology Group, lists on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.
■ New proposals by the European Commission to prevent the commercial export and import of most antiques containing ivory are described by BADA as “hugely damaging and disproportionate”.
■ A face jug from the 2005/07 Ealing Martinware theft is returned – the second piece from the local council’s collection to be recovered in recent months – after it is spotted on eBay.
■ As Covid rules continue, Christie’s defends its policy of holding trade-only viewings of its sales, saying they comprise “business meetings” rather than public viewings.
■ Following an internal consultation – and a public outcry – the Wallace Collection says its library and archive service will remain open to the public.
■ Fair organisers plan for the spring and summer as the roadmap easing coronavirus restrictions in England permits outdoor events from April.
■ Kensington and Chelsea Council launches a five-year plan for Portobello Road Market and asks the trade for feedback.
■ Patricia Harvey, founder of The Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in the 1970s, dies. She leaves a shop in Church Street, Marylebone, which will continue to be run by her daughters and grandson.
■ The UK government proposes a fee structure to cover the costs of processing antiques that qualify as exemptions under the 2018 Ivory Act. It will cost £20 to register an exempt item on a database and £230 to certify that an object has been deemed of ‘outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value’.
■ BADA Ltd, the organiser of the Open Art Fair in 2020, loses an appeal against a small claims court ruling that said two dealers need pay only part of their stand fee as the event was cut short.
■ The future of The London Silver Vaults is secure thanks to a new landlord but long-time resident Koopman Rare Art, in Chancery Lane since the late 1950s, says the firm is leaving for Mayfair.
■ Masterpiece cancels the physical edition of its 2021 London event because of coronavirus restrictions.
■ Christie’s sells an NFT by Beeple for $69m as the auction market for digital artwork takes off, prompting some to raise concerns about a speculative bubble that might soon burst.
■ The record for a British coin is broken with the sale of a 1937 Edward VIII proof pattern £5 for $1.9m (£1.39m) at Heritage in Dallas.
■ Lee Young, Asian specialist and BBC Antiques Roadshow expert, leaves Duke’s to become the new owner of Frome saleroom Dore & Rees.
■ After four years London coin specialists Baldwin’s and St James’ Auctions end their tie-up. Baldwin’s now runs its auctions from 399 Strand where parent company Stanley Gibbons Group is based.
■ Antiques shops and centres, auction houses and outdoor markets welcome customers back to their premises in England and Wales on April 12 as government restrictions are lifted. Sunbury Antiques Market is the first open-air to return, reopening on April 13 at Kempton racecourse with a Covid-restricted 300 stalls. “We could have sold out 10 times over,” says organiser Edward Cruttenden.
■ In Scotland most non-essential retail reopens on April 26.
■ Evesham auction house Kingham & Orme is rebranded as Kinghams and announces its move to a new 9000 sq ft saleroom at the Cotswolds Business Village in Moreton-in- Marsh.
■ Bonhams acquires The Market, an online marketplace for classic car and motorcycle auctions.
■ France enters a third national lockdown which is set to end on May 19. Auction houses can trade with restrictions in place; a situation which had prompted a dealer trade association to sue the government for permission for galleries to continue to operate – without success.
■ TEFAF Maastricht 2021, moved from March to September this year, is cancelled due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. An online event runs instead.
■ The LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair usually held in the autumn in London’s Berkeley Square is cancelled for a second year running.
■ A hoard of Romano-British bronzes, discovered by metal detectorists in North Yorkshire last year, sells at a Hansons auction for £185,000 to the London dealer David Aaron. The bronzes are later resold to the Yorkshire Museum.
■ Rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587 are among gold and silver treasures stolen in a burglary at Arundel Castle. More than £1m worth of artefacts are now missing.
■ David Houlston, long-term head of Phillips’ and then Bonhams’ vernacular furniture sales, leaves Bonhams to become a dealer in Stow-on-the-Wold. Houlston’s departure may mean the end of the regular Oak Interior sales at Bonhams.
■ Robyn Robb (1945-2021), English porcelain dealer, dies aged 75. She was a member of a member of both the English and American Ceramic Circles as well as BADA.
■ Bonhams holds its annual Greek art auction in Paris rather than London as a result of Brexit.
■ Phillips appoints Stephen Brooks as chief executive. He was previously deputy chief executive at Christie’s.
■ Sotheby’s opens The Emporium in New York. The shop stocks art, design and luxury items available for immediate purchase.
■ The seventh edition of The Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair goes ahead. It is the first vetted event to take place since the last edition of the same fair in September 2020.
■ A three-lot sale of collectables owned by Stuart Weitzman raises almost $28m at Sotheby’s New York. A 1933 Double Eagle sells for $16.75m (£11.88m), an auction record for any coin. Stanley Gibbons buys the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp at $7m (£5m) and invites the public to buy shares in it.
■ Dealer Carter Marsh offers the first tranche of the Dr John C Taylor collection, perhaps the finest group of English clocks in private hands. Among many sales is the Mudge Green priced at £1.2m, a marine timekeeper made by Thomas Mudge as he pitched for the Longitude Prize in 1777.
■ Sotheby’s delays the sale of the Honresfield Library of British Literature to allow institutions to raise funds to buy its rich holdings of material related to the Brontë family.
■ Mark Hoffman’s ‘Oath of a Freeman’, one of the most infamous forgeries in recent US history, sells for $42,000 (£30,000) at Heritage. It was sold by Justin Schiller, the antiquarian bookseller who in 1985 attempted to broker its sale for $1.5m.
■ Tony Pratt, chairman of the Canterbury Auction Galleries, dies aged 66.
■ A monumental Ming dynasty Sino-Tibetan figure of the wrathful deity Vajrabhairava becomes the most expensive work of art ever sold in Germany, selling for €9.5m (£8.64m) at Stuttgart auction house Nagel.
■ After a six-year legal battle, Jermyn Street textiles dealer S Franses wins a dispute with its landlord over a new lease and rent.
■ Antiques Trade Gazette publishes its 2500th issue.
■ Christie’s sells one of the last few Leonardo da Vinci drawings in private hands. Head of a Bear, a 2¾in (7cm) square sketch from the Leiden Collection, takes £7.5m.
■ A new online book fair is launched. The Transatlantic Book Fair is a joint venture between the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA) and the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA).
■ Larger indoor fairs can go ahead in England after coronavirus restrictions are relaxed on July 19.
■ Asian buyers have become the dominant force at the top end of the auction market, accounting for 39% of total purchases by value, according to Christie’s.
■ Portobello Road dealers clean up after ‘a month of rain in 90 minutes’ floods homes and businesses in the area.
■ Remarkable sums are paid for vintage video games at Heritage in Dallas– including a record-breaking $1.35m (£1m) bid for an unopened 25-year-old copy of Super Mario 64.
■ The French state acquires the original manuscript for 120 days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade for €4m. It is part of the huge haul of works from defunct manuscript investment scheme Aristophil.
■ Defra launches a consultation on extending the near-total ban on the antique ivory trade in the UK beyond elephant tusks. The ivory-bearing species considered for inclusion are hippos, narwhals, walruses, killer whales and sperm whales.
■ After more than 18 months, the Cotswolds Decorative, Antiques & Art Fair opens its doors again.
■ Christie’s announces plans for its first permanent saleroom and gallery space in Hong Kong. The firm says in 2024 it will relocate its Asia Pacific headquarters to The Henderson building with plans to, “transform our sales and events schedule from two main seasons a year, to year-round programming”.
■ New Jersey decorative arts and design firm Rago Wright expands its operations to the West Coast with the acquisition of LA Modern Auctions.
■ The Richard Winterton auction house takes on the lease of the Grade II-listed former arts centre in Tamworth and plans to open a new saleroom.
■ Kevin Hairsine, a Cambridgeshire dealer in decorative antiques, launches a customs clearance and advisory service aimed at dealers and collectors who buy in post-Brexit Europe.
■ The annual PAD London fair scheduled for October is cancelled.
■ Former chairman of Bonhams Robert Brooks dies aged 64.
■ The Colt single action revolver Pat Garrett used to kill Billy the Kid is sold for $5m (£3.65m) at Bonhams in Los Angeles, a record for any firearm.
■ A collection of antiquarian books left to an Oxfam store in Devon sells for £40,000. The shop sells 80 volumes and a private collector snaps up the rest.
■ The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is cancelled.
■ Auction house Tennants steps in to host The Northern Antiques Fair as its usual Harrogate venue is not available. A permanent move to Leyburn is mooted.
■ Antiques Trade Gazette publishes a special anniversary issue to mark 50 years of publishing.
■ The Decorative Fair returns to Battersea after a long absence as demand soars for home furnishings.
■ Ten sculptures and works of art are stolen during an overnight raid at central London dealership Tomasso on September 21-22.
■ The final consultation on the Ivory Act is launched ahead of the near-total ivory ban coming into force in spring 2022. It asks for views on how sanctions will be enforced when the new law is broken.
■ Sotheby’s New York conducts a sale of 117 lots of early Meissen porcelain restituted to the heirs of collector Dr Franz Oppenheimer. The Rijksmuseum (where many pieces had been on show) is the biggest buyer at the $15m sale, claiming more than half the lots.
■ Bonhams opens its first dedicated saleroom in mainland Europe in Paris.
■ Tribal Art London, the UK’s main fair dedicated to this collecting field, runs as a virtual event for the first time, while in Paris Parcours des Mondes is able to take place in-person as the event marks its 20th edition.
■ “It was a very special feeling to be able to show our pieces in public again. We’d almost forgotten what it felt like!” Decorative arts specialist Oscar Graf enjoys Frieze Masters, which runs from October 13-17.
■ The Cotswold Art & Antiques Dealers’ Association Fair opens at Compton Verney in Warwickshire.
■ Auction Technology Group (ATG), owner of Antiques Trade Gazette and online marketplaces including thesaleroom.com, completes the acquisition of LiveAuctioneers, a major art and antiques auction marketplace in North America.
■ The half-shredded Banksy painting Love is in the Bin returns to Sotheby’s to make a record £16m. Three years earlier, when titled Girl with Balloon, it had sold for £860,000 before it had self-destructed.
■ Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair – the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association annual flagship event – takes place at its new home of the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.
■ British pottery specialist Roger de Ville dies, aged 86.
■ An Ilkhanid gold and silver-inlaid brass candlestick, probably made in Iraq in the late 13th century, becomes the most expensive Islamic metalwork sold at auction bringing £5.6m at Sotheby’s.
■ The auction record for a British coin is broken again. The Edward VIII proof pattern £5, that set a new benchmark in March, is resold in Monaco for €1.76m (£1.48m).
■ Asian Art in London begins its 2021 season with its Islamic and Indian section.
■ Dealer trade association LAPADA holds its annual conference in London.
■ The Winter Olympia show makes a welcome return to the National Hall for its 30th anniversary.
■ Assembled in the pre-war era, the Parry collection of Chinese art sells for £7.9m at Bonhams. Six pieces in the collection were featured in the 1935-35 Chinese art exhibition at the Royal Academy, including an early Qianlong period Beijing enamel melon form teapot which takes £1.7m.
■ The number of art market participants (AMPs) registered with the UK tax authorities under the Fifth Anti Money Laundering Directive now exceeds 800.
■ Records fall for studio pottery when the collection of the late New York art dealer Dr John P Driscoll is sold by Phillips in association with Maak Contemporary Ceramics. A ‘coco de mer’ pot by Hans Coper makes £520,000.
■ US billionaire Kenneth Griffin confirms he is the new owner of a copy of the US Constitution sold for $41m at Sotheby’s. He had outbid a collective of cryptocurrency enthusiasts who had crowdfunded more than $40m online.
■ The Colour Room, a Sky Original film of artist potter Clarice Cliff’s early life, debuts at cinemas and online streaming services. Fieldings auctioneer Will Farmer appears in the movie.
■ Police appeal for information following a theft of more than 400 pieces of jewellery, coins and watches from Adam Partridge Auctioneers in Macclesfield.
■ Online dealer marketplace The Bruno Effect launches with more than 30,000 items from hundreds of dealers across the UK, US and Europe.
■ The Portobello Road Market is to become pedestrian only. Under the new rules introduced by the council, most vehicles will not be able to access the street on market days.
■ Art and antiques dealers are temporarily banned from sending items such as books, glassware and toys to certain European countries after a botched list is inadvertently published by the Royal Mail – “an unfortunate and unwelcome error,” says book and map dealer Daniel Crouch.
■ The Brussels Art Fair (BRAFA) is postponed due to the worsening coronavirus situation in Europe
■ Government measures come into force making face coverings compulsory once more in England at shops, centres, galleries and auction houses. People are told to work from home where possible, as concern about the Omicron variant grows.
■ One of New York’s most prolific antiquities collectors, hedge fund pioneer Michael H Steinhardt, surrenders 180 items from his collection and is barred for life from acquiring antiquities again after a four-year pan-global investigation by the New York Antiquities Trafficking Unit.
■ In a deal that brings two of the UK’s largest regional auction houses under the same parent company, Gurr Johns, owner of Dreweatts, acquires London works on paper specialist Forum Auctions. The two firms’ combined premium-inclusive hammer total for 2021 will be close to £50m.
■ Sutton Coldfield dealer Thomas Coulborn & Sons confirms it has sold a carved gourd bowl to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
■ One of York’s oldest bookshops, Ken Spelman Books, announces it will close its premises in February next year to focus on online trading and fairs.