Martin Millard, Director, Cheffins, said:

“2020 has certainly been a year to remember for everyone in the auction trade. The key this year has been to adapt, and to do it quickly. Having previously been an industry which thrived on live auctions with buyers in attendance, the coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought with it its challenges as auction houses across the country had to adapt to online-only and timed online formats. However, COVID-19 has also created a renewed buoyancy in the market as the protracted periods of working from home and furlough drove more and more buyers to the internet to source that perfect piece for their home or collection. In fact, at Cheffins we have seen a huge growth in the number of online sales for furniture and artworks with an average of 61 new online buyers at every single sale, representing an uplift of 30 per cent in comparison to the same time frame last year. And whilst the start of the year saw a stop-start scenario with the cancellation of five auctions in the Spring, the success of the subsequent sales through to December has helped 2020 exceed all expectations.

2020 has seen strong sales across all categories. Our maiden one-day ‘Autumn Sale’, a select grouping principally from one Suffolk country house, was a storming success and helped to reinvigorate the sporting art market, with a Peter Tillemans depiction of Newmarket Heath being knocked down at £125,000, which was over triple its lower estimate. This was closely followed by strong prices being achieved for fresh-to-market paintings by the likes of John Wootton and John Nost Sartorious. The three Fine Sales and two Art & Design Sales in 2020 also saw strong totals achieved with some excellent results in both furniture and artwork categories, and records set for a number of 20th century artists. These were backed up by our specialist sales such as the Library Sale and the Wine Sale. Jewellery, Silver and Watches also saw a huge success this year with a series of headline-worthy lots selling for well into the thousands, most notably a bejewelled locket with links to Queen Victoria which sold for £19,000, over six times its lower estimate. The regular Interiors Auction has also been highly successful this year, with 90% of all lots offered finding buyers.

What 2021 has in store for the market is anybody’s guess, particularly given the uncertainty over the movement of goods within the EU as Brexit looms, however, we remain confident that quality will continue to sell, regardless of the challenges we face. Online sales are likely to continue to dominate, particularly as it appears the vaccine roll out could take some time to come fully into effect, and we forecast that demand will continue to increase, in spite of the world returning to any sense of normality. The calendar has now been set for the first half of 2021 and we look forward to introducing our first ever standalone ‘Spring Sale’ which will adopt the same one-day format as the Autumn Sale, with a series of select, high value lots.

The first sale of 2021 will be The Interiors Sale on Thursday 21st January, which will be followed by Art & Design on Thursday 11th February and we look forward to seeing our customers and clients in the New Year.”


For further information contact the Fine Art Department on 01223 213343,