Patrizzi leaves Antiquorum

Osvaldo Patrizzi, the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Antiquorum, the world’s leading watch auction house, has left the company, say sources close to Antiquorum and reports in the Swiss media. His departure was also reported by the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 17.

Succeeding him as Antiquorum chairman is John Tsukahara, an official with ArtistHouse Holdings, a Japanese company which acquired 50 percent of Antiquorum in 2006.

Patrizzi was removed by its board of directors at the start of August, says the Journal, which spoke with Patrizzi. There were also similar statements posted this month on TimeZoneItalia.com, allegedly from Patrizzi, and a statement attributed to Antquourm’s majority shareholders.

The TimeZoneItalia.com posting says Patrizzi “decided to leave” the company on Aug. 3 “because of divergences and controversies with the other shareholders of Antiquorum.”

Patrizzi founded Antiquorum in 1974 and built it into the world’s leading auction house for fine timepieces and a leading source for watch collectors, contributing to today’s demand for luxury watches. Antiquorum has chalked up many world records in sales of watches, clocks, and other timekeeping devices at auction. In recent years, it has sold about 80 percent of all watches sold at auction above $800,000.

Antiquorum is an Internet pioneer, being the first auction house (in the early 1980s) to take its watch auctions online (letting collectors both follow an auction and bid online). It’s known for its thematic auctions, such as its “The Quarter Millennium of Vacheron Constantin” (2005), which had sales totaling $15.1 million, a record for the venerable watch brand, or the April, 2007, “Omegamania” auction of 300 rare Omega timepieces, totaling $5.5 million, triple the pre-auction estimates, and setting several world records.