Christie’s values the role we have played in stewarding great works of art with our clients for nearly 250 years. Whether they are buying or selling, Christie’s clients count on us to understand both the cultural and commercial value of art — and to ensure the responsible sale of their cultural objects.
Our policy on the looting of cultural property
The looting of archaeological sites and the destruction of historic buildings and monuments continues to be a major concern in the art world. Christie’s wholeheartedly supports UNESCO’s campaign to raise awareness of looting in Iraq and Syria.
We want to play our part in sending a clear message to those who participate in the illicit trade in cultural property that property looted and trafficked from conflict zones cannot be sold in the open market.
When handling works of antiquity or any work of art, Christie’s adheres to any and all local and international laws related to cultural property and patrimony. We have strict procedures in place to help to ensure we only offer works of art which we are entitled to sell and, as a part of that due diligence, we work closely in partnership with UNESCO, as well as Interpol, US Department of Homeland Security and Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit.
As custodians of the art that passes through our doors, we recognise that we have a duty to carefully research the art and objects we handle and sell. Research and its publication is a vital part of our work. We devote considerable resources to investigating the provenance of objects we offer for sale and have a programme of specific procedures, including the requirement that our Sellers provide verifiable evidence in order to ensure that the works in our sales have not come from conflict zones.
As an additional safeguard we positively welcome and encourage scrutiny of our catalogues by museums, archeologists, collectors, law enforcement and government agencies.
To further these aims, and ensure that we have the most up to date information, we regularly attend and address forums tackling this area and are also in discussion with representatives of the countries affected by this illicit trade.
Christie’s believe we can play a useful role in the prevention of the illicit trade in cultural property and also facilitate the resolution of cultural property issues. We continue to recognise and evolve our responsibilities, while supporting the honourable and legal market in ancient art.
Article | How Christie’s helped to return a looted treasure to Afghanistan
Our policy on ivory
Today, we are seeing unprecedented levels of poaching of elephants, which is endangering the species as a whole. Christie's unequivocally condemns the slaughter of elephants for illegal elephant ivory. Christie’s will not sell modern ivory, or unworked tusks of any age.
Our responsibility is to ensure that illegal ivory cannot be sold at Christie’s. We sell historic objects of cultural and artistic importance, some of which contain ivory or are made wholly of ivory, such as 18th century furniture, objects of virtue, medieval, renaissance and later ivory sculpture, Japanese netsuke, and 18th century silverware. Ivory was commonly used in the decorative arts, when the elephant population was not under threat. We believe that the sale of these culturally significant works of art does not contribute to the current illegal elephant ivory trade, which is driven largely by the demand for contemporary religious, tourist and trophy pieces.
In selling historic cultural objects which incorporate ivory, we are careful to abide by all global and local laws designed to protect elephants. In particular we operate in accordance with the CITES international convention and with all relevant national, federal and state regulations wherever we operate.
Our specialists carry out stringent due diligence on the provenance of all such objects in order to satisfy ourselves that these strict criteria are met. Our intention is that no objects that pass through our hands are the product of the illicit trade in ivory.
Christie’s adheres to the clear legal distinction between the antique objects of cultural and artistic value and the unacceptable, illegal market for new ivory.
By making our position clear we hope to raise awareness and to encourage responsible behaviour in buyers and sellers wherever they might trade in ivory objects.
Christie’s is proud to support philanthropic initiatives through our networks, whether by facilitating the sale of artwork to benefit important causes, offering, when we can, our salerooms as a venue for fundraising events, and providing expert charity auctioneers. In 2013, Christie’s auctioneers assisted with more than 275 benefit auctions in 23 countries around the world, raising more than $96 million.
To request a charity auctioneer for a fundraiser to benefit a trust, foundation or 501c3, please send an email detailing the initiative to Charityauctioneerrequest@christies.com.
Christie’s maintains its legacy of service in all aspects of operations, through fostering creativity, encouraging our employees to work as volunteers and utilizing Christie’s Education programs to share knowledge and resources. In 2013 Christie’s employees volunteered more than 1,600 hours globally to service organisations.
Staff Art Shows
Christie’s reputation in the art world has been built over 250 years. The backbone and essence of Christie’s success — its employees, not surprisingly live and breathe art.
As well as being leading experts in their field, many are talented artists in their own right. From 28 July through 11 August, works by the very best artists in our midst will be on show in the 17th annual Staff Art Exhibition, UNTITLED: Insider Art Show, before being offered in both an online and live auction at Christie’s New York. Proceeds from the sales will benefit The Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE–SRF), which has fostered and protected the lives and creative voices of scholars for over 90 years.
Video | The unknown artists of Christie’s — UNTITLED: Insider Art Show
CSR and Volunteerism
Video | Why Christie’s employees are passionate about volunteering and why CSR is so important to our business and clients
We aim to extend our commitment to responsible workplace practices to better serve our employees and clients and promote a healthy environment and workplace. We now measure and aim to continually improve upon our use of water, electric and carbon emissions. In 2015 we began carbon offsetting employee business travel.