Chaplin sale ends Christie’s era
May 11, 2007
The auction starring Charlie Chaplin?s personal movie camera will be the last such sale at Christie?s South Kensington which has confirmed plans to end specialist sales of such collectibles.
Dwindling demand for collectible kit is understood to be behind Christie?s decision to end auctions dedicated to cameras and other classic kit at its South Kensington premises in London.
Christie?s held its first camera auction in 1973 and claims to have been the world?s leading camera auctioneer since the late 1970s.
Speaking exclusively to Amateur Photographer magazine, Christie?s director and camera specialist Michael Pritchard (pictured), who will be leaving the auctioneers after 21 years, said: ?Unfortunately, the interest in popular collectibles generally has fallen in recent years and these areas have a declining and ageing client base, which is something the company needs to take account of.?
The Bell and Howell movie camera ? thought to have been used by Chaplin in the making of many of his films from 1918-1926 – will go on sale at Christie?s auction of Motion Picture Cameras on 25 July.
The last auction of still cameras will take place on 6 June, featuring Leica, Nikon, 35mm and other photographic equipment. Photograph auctions will not be affected by the decision.
According to Christie?s, the collectible market reached its peak in the mid-1990s when it clocked-up £2m a year in sales.
As we reported yesterday, Christina Freyberg, public relations manager for Christie?s in London, confirmed the end of dedicated camera sales. ?It?s a strategic decision,? she told us. ?We are moving away from a collector-centric approach.?
However, she would not be drawn on whether falling demand was the reason for the move or whether it is part of a money-saving plan.
She said that cameras may be included in future sales as part of auctions that feature art objects but could not say for certain.
Freyberg said that the decision is part of restructuring which is expected to lead to the loss of at least six jobs at Christie?s South Kensington.
For our story yesterday see here: Christie’s axes camera sales