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$840m auction goes ahead despite Christie’s cyber attack

Despite suffering a cyber attack that prevented access to its website, major auction house Christie’s has said that its $840 million spring art auctions will go ahead.

user icon Daniel Croft
Mon, 13 May 2024
$840m auction goes ahead despite Christie’s cyber attack
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The auction house suffered what it called a “technology security issue”, which made its website inaccessible on Thursday (9 May). To date, the website is still down, displaying a simple statement apologising for the outage.

“We apologise that our full website is currently offline. We are looking to resolve this as soon as possible and regret any inconvenience,” the website said.

According to reports, alongside the website being inaccessible, users looking to access the website were redirected to a page that displayed the locations of a number of artworks.

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Speaking with The New York Times, Christie’s spokesperson Edward Lewine confirmed the incident, adding that the auction house had engaged cyber experts to determine the cause of the incident.

“We are taking all necessary steps to manage this matter, with the engagement of a team of additional technology experts,” he said.

“We regret any inconvenience to our clients, and our priority is to minimise any further disruption.”

Christie’s has reportedly confirmed that a cyber attack was to blame for the incident.

Two employees of Christie’s auction house also speaking with The New York Times, who remained anonymous due to not being authorised to speak on the matter, said that there was a state of panic at Christie’s and that high-ranking staff and leaders at the auction house were remaining quiet on the details of the incident and were not answering employee questions asking whether or not the threat actors gained access to sensitive client or employee information, and if so, if they are holding it for ransom.

Despite the incident, Christie’s said that its auctions are going ahead and has only rescheduled the Rare Watches auction.

“To ensure the best possible experience for all of our clients, the Rare Watches including the Property of Michael Schumacher sale has been moved by 24 hours to May 14,” it said.

“We remain committed to providing the highest level of service to our clients and look forward to continuing a successful Geneva sales week, which started with strong results for Only Watch on Friday.”

The attack on Christie’s comes at a key time for the auction house, with the spring art auctions accounting for as much as half of the auction house’s annual revenue.

“A cyber attack like this is the 21st-century equivalent of a hand grenade in a small room,” art market lawyer Thomas C. Danziger told The New York Times.

“Twenty-five years ago, it would have been a flood or a hurricane.”

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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