Christie’s Challenged by Cyberattack: Auctions Continue Despite Website Outage

ActualitésChristie’s Challenged by Cyberattack: Auctions Continue Despite Website Outage

Christie’s Challenged by Cyberattack: Auctions Continue Despite Website Outage

The famous auction house Christie’s has fallen victim to a cyberattack, leaving its official website offline for several days. Despite this incident, the spring sales, which represent nearly half of the company’s annual revenue, are still scheduled. Will the ultra-rich collectors remain loyal to Christie’s during this ordeal? Discover the details of this affair and the stakes of the upcoming sales in this article.

Cyberattack at Christie's: Official website offline

A « Technological Security Issue »

Since last Thursday, Christie’s official website has been unavailable due to a « technological security issue. » Visitors are greeted with an apology message and the promise to provide updates to affected customers. As of Sunday night, the site was still down, leaving doubts about the status of online auctions.

A worrying silence

Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s CEO, confirmed on Sunday night that live auctions would proceed as planned, with in-person and telephone bidding. However, no information has been provided on how the online component of the auctions will be managed. This silence has caused concern among clients and employees, who are wondering if confidential client information has been compromised.

Spring Sales: A Major Stake

Crucial sales for Christie's

The spring sales represent nearly half of Christie’s annual revenue. Among the highlights are the Rosa de la Cruz collection and the 21st Century Evening Sale, scheduled for Tuesday night if everything goes as promised by Cerutti. These sales, most of which benefit from pre-arranged financial guarantees, will be closely watched.

Reassured but Concerned Clients

Despite the technical issues, potential clients have been able to visit Christie’s galleries at Rockefeller Center to view the artworks for sale and discuss bidding. Employees have assured some clients that the website will be fixed « soon, » but as of Saturday afternoon, the site was still inaccessible. A temporary site has been set up, allowing visitors to view upcoming sale catalogs, but not to bid or register online.

A Delicate Situation for Christie’s and the Pinault Family

A difficult context for the Pinault Family

The cyberattack comes at a delicate time for Christie’s and the Pinault family, who control the auction house through Groupe Artémis. Artémis also owns Kering, the luxury group behind brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga. In March, Kering issued a profit warning, expecting a 10% drop in revenues for the first quarter of 2024.

A Leadership change in progress

The cyberattack also occurs amidst a leadership transition at Christie’s. François Louis Nicolas Pinault, the grandson of François Pinault, joined the auction house’s board earlier this year. This attack puts pressure on the shoulders of the new generation of the Pinault family.

Competitors unscathed, for Now

Sotheby's and Phillips unaffected

The two other major auction houses, Sotheby’s and Phillips, have reported no recent cyberattacks.

On Monday night, Sotheby’s sold $267.3 million worth of contemporary art in two consecutive sales, marking a 30% increase compared to last year’s spring auctions.

A Growing threat

Chelsea Binns, a cybercrime expert at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, believes that most companies are ill-prepared for cyberattacks. She emphasizes the importance of conducting exercises and developing a backup plan. The cyberattack against Christie’s could serve as a warning to other players in the art and luxury market.

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