Hours after ARTnews published a report on the Bonhams auction house continuing to hold sales in Los Angeles after one of its employees exhibited flu-like symptoms, the auction house said it will close most of its offices (with the exception of those in Hong Kong) and conduct upcoming sales in London, Edinburgh, and L.A. “behind closed doors.” Bids for those will by accepted online and by phone, and potential buyers will be able to view the works on offer only by appointment.
In a statement, the auction house said, “In light of the current situation, and in accordance with government advice, Bonhams is taking extra health and safety precautions to protect both clients and staff.”
On Wednesday, ARTnews reported that Bonhams managers and human resources representatives had required that employees continue to work and help host sales after concerns were raised over one worker’s illness that appeared to be spreading among the staff. An auction was held on Tuesday, and requests to report from home had been denied.
Meanwhile, Swann Auction Galleries, a house that is based in New York, said it would reschedule some upcoming sales and continue as planned with others on its website. “We are eager to reset our sale schedule as soon as possible, and are currently exploring several exciting options, including remotely run live sales and online-only timed auctions,” Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann’s president and principal auctioneer, said in a statement.
The developments come as officials across the United States encourage the public to take more drastic measures while the number of coronavirus cases in the country continues rising. Some cities have enacted shelter in place regulations, and many others are imploring their residents to socially distance themselves and not go outside.