Christie’s to absorb Christie’s East division

As part of a “globalization plan,” Christie’s auction house said it will incorporate its New York-based Christie’s East division into Rockefeller Center headquarters early next year, Reuters reported.

“Christie’s East is a thriving and profitable business that has outgrown its current facility,” Richard Madley, president of Christie’s East, said in a statement released Tuesday. ”Moving to Rockefeller Center will allow us to continue our incredible growth while maintaining the spirit and flavor of our signature sales.”

Christie’s, one of the grande dames of the rarefied auction world along with rival Sotheby’s, established the New York-based Christie’s East in 1979, which offered lower-priced art, antiques and memorabilia than its main division, headquartered in Rockefeller Center.

Christie’s International CEO Edward Dolman said that since the opening of the headquarters in 1999, “it has been our intention to hold all Christie’s sales in New York at a single location.”

“The move continues Christie’s current globalization plan to integrate specialists on a worldwide basis,” the statement added.

Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have struggled for more than a year in the face of a price-fixing scandal. A federal judge recently approved a record $512 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed against the two giants, for which Christie’s is responsible for half.

Analysts say the scandal, and more importantly unsteady financial markets, could affect the outcome of the auction houses’ upcoming spring Impressionist and modern art sales, Reuters reported. Last fall many featured works by artists including Degas, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Renoir went unsold.

Christie’s sales in 2000 were $2.32 billion, up 12 percent from the previous year. Christie’s East total sales in 2000 were a record $67 million.