For 30 years, Colin the doorman has greeted visitors on the red carpet at Christie’s in King Street, St James’s. At Sotheby’s on New Bond Street, uniformed ladies in Marigolds polish the Georgian brass doorknobs until they gleam. Now in her eighties, Mary Beaseley has worked in the post room at Bonhams in Knightsbridge for 50 years. These Old World work patterns and benign traditions are just one part of the story, for, as the Frieze Art Fair grows bigger every year, and London revels in being the art world’s darling, auction houses are turning into luxury brands. And like any good luxury brand should, they are digging down to their foundations, dusting off their real estate and modernising their modus operandi to let the light in.
“There’s masses to do,” says Edward Dolman, the new CEO of Phillips, talking from his new headquarters in Berkeley Square, where seven-metre-high glass windows display six-figure artworks to the street for all to see. “London is an international hub, and will be for long time. It’s a magnet for Middle Eastern, Russian and Chinese collectors and they want luxury,” he adds. Read more.