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History on 5th January


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First Christies Sale

St James's, London The 5th of January 1766 AD

James Christie started small but his business rapidly developed into a major auction house within a few years, and these days it has a worldwide reputation and a turnover nearing the $3Bn mark.
Featured on the first sale list at Christie’s rented rooms in Pall Mall were, according to the company history, bed-sheets, pillow-cases, irons, and two chamber pots. That was on December 5 1766. Rather more exotic and luxurious items would fill his salerooms within a quarter of a century: the upheavals of the French Revolution proved a boon to his turnover, newly escaped French aristocrats having to sell whatever family treasures they had left France with in order to pay their way.
The Christie family hasn’t owned the business for a long time, but it still bears their name, so it is still Christie’s that claims new records in the various fields in which they hold auctions: a Monet in 2008 sold for $80M; four Klimts sold for $192M in 2006. And from those rented rooms in Pall Mall the organisation has expanded somewhat, with more than 50 offices dotted around the major cities of the world.

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Laughter would be bereaved if snobbery died. - Peter Ustinov
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On this day:
The Last public hanging - 1868, Prince of Wales Opens Vauxhall Bridge - 1906, British Find Oil in Persia - 1908, First Female Magistrate Appointed - 1913, First ever Glyndebourne - 1934
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