Japanese firm is a new partner of Antiquorum watch auction house

Antiquorum, the world’s leading timepiece auction house, has sold 50 percent of its equity to ArtistHouse Holdings, Inc., a publicly-traded Japanese company, for $30 million. The deal will enable Antiquorum to expand its Asian, publishing and Internet operations.

The deal, which became effective Jan. 23, makes the Japanese firm a 50 percent shareholder in Antiquorum and an equal partner with Osvaldo Patrizzi, the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Antiquorum.

ArtistHouse, founded in 2000 with headquarters in Tokyo, is a diversified holding company with a variety of businesses in entertainment, publishing, and internet technology. “It’s my distinct pleasure to collaborate with such a visionary and energetic company,” said Patrizzi. “I’m confident their experience will be an excellent compliment to the existing Antiquorum team.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Patrizzi will continue as chairman and CEO of Antiquorum.

ArtistHouse will provide Antiquorum with significant support in Antiquorum’s expansion in the Asia market. Antiquorum—which has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, China, and Tokyo—held its first auction in Hong Kong in 1978. Artist House’s immediate focus will be on expanding Antiquorum Japan’s local operations and its presence in Asia.

Artist House also intends to significantly increase Antiquorum’s publishing business and to launch an Antiquorum customer-to-customer Web site, called “C2CTIME.com”.

The Japanese company will also provide what Antiquorum’s annoucement calls “substantial financial support.”

Antiquorum was founded in 1974 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has branches in 10 cities serving 13 countries, including New York, London, Paris, Moscow, and the Asian cities already mentioned. About 80 percent of watches sold in auction above $800,000 in the past years were sold by Antiquorum. Its 2005 sales totaled almost $101.7 million, a 10 percent increase over 2004. There were 3,042 lots offered at auction, of which 2,582 were sold.