Christie's is a British auction house. It was founded in 1766 by James
Christie. Its main premises are on King Street, St James's, in London,
Rockefeller Center in
New York City
New York City in the United States.
The company is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of
François-Henri Pinault. Sales in 2015 totalled £4.8 billion ($7.4
billion). It has the credit of selling the
Salvator Mundi for
$450.3 million, the most expensive painting ever sold.
1.3 1998 takeover
4 Price-fixing scandal
5 Notable auctions
6 Auction errors at Christie's
Art Storage Services (CFASS)
Christie's Education graduate programmes
12 External links
In A Peep at Christies (1799),
James Gillray caricatured actress
Elizabeth Farren and huntsman Lord Derby examining paintings
appropriate to their tastes and heights.
The official company literature states that founder James Christie
conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766,
and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from
December 1766. However, other sources note that James Christie rented
auction rooms from 1762, and newspaper advertisements of Christie's
sales dating from 1759 have also been traced.
Christie's soon established a reputation as a leading auction house,
and took advantage of London's new found status as the major center of
the international art trade after the French Revolution. From 1859,
the company was called Christie, Manson & Woods. In 1958, it
established its first overseas office, by placing a representative in
Rome. The first overseas salesroom opened in Geneva, where Christie's
holds jewellery auctions.
The Microcosm of
London (1808), an engraving of
Christie's was a public company, listed on the
London Stock Exchange
from 1973 to 1999. In 1974, Jo Floyd was appointed chairman of
Christie's. He served as chairman of
Christie's International plc.
from 1976 to 1988, until handing over to Lord Carrington, and later
was a non-executive member of the board of directors until 1992.
The auction house's subsidiary
Christie's International Inc. held its
first sale in the United States in 1977, 13 years later than
Christie's growth was slow but steady since 1989, when it
had 42 percent of the auction market.
In 1990, the company reversed a longstanding policy and guaranteed a
minimum price for a collection of artworks in its May auctions. In
1996, the auction house's sales eclipsed
Sotheby's for the first time
since 1954. However, its profits did not grow at the same
pace; from 1993 through 1997,
Christie's annual pretax profits
were about $60 million, whereas
Sotheby's annual pretax profits were
about $265 million for those years.
Christie's paid $12.7 million for the
London gallery Spink
& Sons, which specialised in Oriental art and British paintings;
the gallery was run as a separate entity from the auction house. The
company bought Leger Gallery for $3.3 million in 1996, and merged it
with Spink to become Spink-Leger. Spink-Leger was closed in 2002.
To make itself competitive with
Sotheby's in the property market,
Christie's bought Great Estates in 1995, then the largest network of
independent estate agents in North America, changing its name to
Christie's Great Estates Inc.
In December 1997, under the chairmanship of Lord Hindlip, Christie's
put itself on the auction block, but after two months of negotiations
with the consortium-led investment firm SBC
Warburg Dillon Read
Warburg Dillon Read it did
not attract a bid high enough to accept. In May 1998, François
Pinault's holding company,
Groupe Artémis S.A., first bought 29.1
percent of the company for $243.2 million, and subsequently purchased
the rest of it in a deal that valued the entire company at $1.2
billion. The company has since not been reporting profits, though
it gives sale totals twice a year. Its policy, in line with UK
accounting standards, is to convert non-UK results using an average
exchange rate weighted daily by sales throughout the year. In
Christie's France held its first auction in Paris.
Christie's became increasingly involved in
high-profile private transactions. In 2006,
Christie's offered a
reported $21 million guarantee to the
Donald Judd Foundation and
displayed the artist's works for five weeks in an exhibition that
later won an AICA award for "Best Installation in an Alternative
Space". In 2007 the auction house brokered a $68 million deal that
transferred Thomas Eakins's
The Gross Clinic
The Gross Clinic (1875) from the Jefferson
Medical College at the
Thomas Jefferson University
Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to
joint ownership by the Philadelphia Museum of
Art and the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts. That same year, Haunch of Venison, a
contemporary art gallery which since 2002 had successfully conducted
back-room sales of secondary-market works by major artists such as
Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, and
Damien Hirst from its locations in
London and Zürich, became a subsidiary of Christie's
Under the original deal, the gallery was meant to be the channel for
Christie's private-client business as well as the focus of its
primary trade. Also, the auction house originally announced that
Haunch employees could not bid at auction because of conflicts of
interest or issues of market manipulation, but later abandoned this
Christie's eventually retained the brand name and
repositioned Haunch as purely a primary-focused gallery, any
secondary-market activities were taken over by the auction house's
post-war and contemporary department. Today, the gallery continues
to operate as an independent company in
London and New York, and again
handles all of its secondary market activities itself.
On 28 December 2008,
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times reported that Pinault's debts
left him "considering" the sale of
Christie's and that a number of
"private equity groups" were thought to be interested in its
acquisition. In January 2009,
Christie's was reported to employ
2,100 people worldwide, though an unspecified number of staff and
consultants were soon to be cut due to a worldwide downturn in the art
market; later news reports said that 300 jobs would be cut.
With sales for premier Impressionist, Modern, and contemporary
artworks tallying only $US248.8 million in comparison to $US739
million just a year before, a second round of job cuts began after May
2009 when the auction house was still reported to employ 1,900 people
worldwide. One of the auction house's "rainmakers" in the sale of
Impressionist and Modern art, Guy Bennett, resigned from the auction
house just prior to the beginning of the summer 2009 sales season.
Although the economic downturn has encouraged some collectors to sell
art, others are unwilling to sell in a market which may yield only
On 1 January 2017
Guillaume Cerutti was appointed chief executive
officer. Patricia Barbizet was appointed chief executive officer
Christie's in 2014, the first female CEO of the company. In
2012, Impressionist works, which dominated the market during the 1980s
boom, were replaced by contemporary art as
Christie's top category.
Asian art was the third most-lucrative area.
With income from classic auctioneering falling, treaty sales made
£413.4 million ($665 million) in the first half of 2012, an increase
of 53% on the same period last year; they now represent more than 18%
of turnover. The company has promoted curated events, centred on a
theme rather than an art classification or time period.
As part of a companywide review in 2017,
Christie's announced the
layoffs of 250 employees, or 12 percent of the total work force, based
mainly in Britain and Europe.
From 2008 until 2013,
Christie's charged 25 percent for the first
$50,000; 20 percent on the amount between $50,001 and $1 million, and
12 percent on the rest. From 2013, it charged 25 percent for the first
$75,000; 20 percent on the next $75,001 to $1.5 million and 12 percent
on the rest.
London salesroom is on King Street in St. James's,
where it has been based since 1823. It had a second
South Kensington which opened in 1975 and primarily handled the
Christie's permanently closed the South Kensington
salesroom in July 2017 as part of their restructuring plans announced
March 2017. The closure was due in part to a considerable decrease in
sales between 2015 and 2016 in addition to the company expanding its
online sales presence.
Christie's opened a branch on New York's Park Avenue, with a
salesroom accommodating about 600 people. Increasingly cramped for
space, the auction house signed a 30-year lease in 1997 for a
300,000-square-foot space in
Rockefeller Center for $40 million.
Christie's New York sign was created by
Nancy Meyers during the
production of the 2003 film Something's Gotta Give for an exterior
shot; the auction house liked the sign so much that it requested the
production leave it after shooting finished.
Christie's East, a division that sold lower-priced art and
objects, was located at 219 East 67th Street. In 1996, Christie's
bought a townhouse on East 59th Street in Manhattan as a separate
gallery where experts could show clients art in complete privacy to
conduct private treaty sales.
Christie's opened a Beverly Hills
salesroom in 1997.
In January 2009,
Christie's had 85 offices in 43 countries,
including New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, Geneva, Houston,
Amsterdam, Moscow, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Rome, South Korea,
Milan, Madrid, Japan, China, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok,
Tel Aviv, Dubai, and Mexico City. In 1995,
Christie's became the first
international auction house to exhibit works of art in Beijing, China.
In early 2017,
Christie's announced plans to close its secondary South
Kensington salesroom at the end of the year and scale back its
operation in Amsterdam. In April 2017, Christie’s is to open a
4,500 square feet two-story flagship space in Beverly Hills,
In 2000, allegations surfaced of a price-fixing arrangement between
Christie's and Sotheby's, another major auction house. Executives from
Christie's subsequently alerted the Department of Justice of their
suspicions of commission-fixing collusion.
Christie's gained immunity from prosecution in the United States as a
longtime employee of
Christie's confessed and cooperated with the US
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Numerous members of
management were fired soon thereafter, and A. Alfred Taubman, the
largest shareholder of
Sotheby's at the time, took most of the blame;
he and Dede Brooks (the CEO) were given jail sentences, and
Sotheby's and their owners also paid a civil lawsuit
settlement of $512 million.
Pontormo, Portrait of a Halberdier, 1528–1530. Sold by Christie's
for US $35. 2 million in 1989. (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)
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In 1987, during the
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall auction,
auctioned off a
Bugatti Royale automobile for a world record price of
In May 1989, Pontormo's Portrait of a Halberdier was sold to the J.
Paul Getty Museum for $35.2 million, more than tripling the previous
auction record for an
Old Master painting.
On 11 November 1994, the
Codex Leicester was sold to
Bill Gates for
Christie's in New York sold the famous Archimedes Palimpsest
after the conclusion of a lawsuit in which its ownership was disputed.
In November 1999, a single strand necklace of 41 natural and graduated
pearls, which belonged to Barbara Hutton, was auctioned by Christie's
Geneva for $1,476,000.
In June 2001,
Elton John sold 20 of his cars at Christie's, saying he
didn't get the chance to drive them because he was out of the country
so often. The sale, which included a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, the most
expensive at £234,750, and several Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, and
Bentleys, raised nearly £2 million.
In 2006, a single Imperial
Qing Dynasty porcelain bowl, another item
which belonged to Barbara Hutton, was auctioned by
Kong for a price of $22,240,000.
On 16 May 2006,
Christie's auctioned a
Stradivarius called The Hammer
for a record US$3,544,000. It was, at that time, the most paid at
public auction for any musical instrument.
In October 2006,
Christie's auctioned 1,000 lots of official Star Trek
contents from the
CBS Paramount Television studios. A model of the
starship Enterprise-D, used in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star
Trek Generations sold for $500,000.
In November 2006, four celebrated paintings by
Gustav Klimt were sold
for a total of $192 million, after being restituted by Austria to
Jewish heirs after a lengthy legal battle.
In December 2006, a copy of the black dress worn by
Audrey Hepburn in
the film Breakfast at Tiffany's was sold for £467,200 at Christie's
Christie's lists for auction artefacts known to be looted from
Bulgaria and refuses to stop the sale despite strong evidence from the
Bulgaria's culture ministry.
Continuing to dominate the global market for fine arts, Christie's
staged the five largest auctions of all time in November 2006, and
May and June 2007. 
In November 2007, an album of eight leaves, ink on paper, by China's
Ming Dynasty court painter
Dong Qichang was sold at the Christie's
Hong Kong Chinese Paintings Auction for US$6,235,500, a world auction
record for the artist.
In 2008, the
Ink and wash painting
Ink and wash painting of
Gundam drawn by Hisashi in 2005
was sold in the
Christie's auction held in Hong Kong with a price of
On 24 May 2008,
Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas
Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas by
Claude Monet was sold for a
price of $80.4 million, the highest price ever for a Monet.
Over a three-day sale in Paris in February 2009,
the monumental private collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre
Bergé for a record-breaking 370 million euros (US$490 million).
It was the most expensive private collection ever sold at auction,
breaking auction records for Brâncuși, Matisse, and Mondrian.
"Dragons" armchair by Irish furniture designer
Eileen Gray sold
for 21.9 million euros (US$28 million), setting an auction record for
a piece of 20th century decorative art.
The 2009 auction (for US$36 million) of two imperial bronze zodiac
sculptures collected by Yves Saint Laurent, looted in 1860 from the
Old Summer Palace
Old Summer Palace of Beijing by French and British forces at the close
Second Opium War
Second Opium War caused controversy.
Christie's Hong Kong, November 2009 sale of Fine Modern Chinese
Paintings, sold a work by
Fu Baoshi titled Landscape inspired by
Dufu's Poetic Sentiments, for HK$60,020,000 (US$7,780,105) – a world
record for the artist.
Christie's auctioned Pablo Picasso's
Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
Nude, Green Leaves and Bust on 4
May 2010. The piece sold for US$106.5 million, making the sale among
the most expensive paintings ever sold.
On 14 June 2010 Amedeo Modigliani's Tête, a limestone sculpture of a
woman's head, became the second most expensive sculpture ever sold and
the most expensive work of art sold in France.
On 18 April 2012, the silver cup given to the marathon winner, Greek
athlete Spyridon Louis, at the first modern Olympic Games staged in
Athens in 1896 sold for UK£541,250 (US$860,000), breaking the auction
record for Olympic memorabilia.
On 22 June 2012 George Washington's personal annotated copy of the
Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America from 1789,
The Constitution of the United States
The Constitution of the United States and a draft of
the Bill of Rights, was sold at
Christie's for a record $9,826,500,
with fees the final cost, to The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
This was the record for a document sold at auction.
On 12 November 2013, Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud
sold for US$142.4 million (including the buyer's premium) to an
unnamed buyer, nominally becoming the most expensive work of art ever
to be sold at auction.
On 11 May 2015, Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger ("Version O") sold
for US$179.3 million to an unnamed buyer, becoming the most expensive
work of art ever to be sold at auction at
Christie's New York. In
November of the same year, Amedeo Modigliani's Nu Couché (1917–18)
sold at Christie’s in New York for $170.4 million, making it the
second most expensive work sold at auction.
In May 2016 the
Oppenheimer Blue diamond sold for 56.837 million SFr,
a record price for a jewel at auction.
On 7 July 2016 the highest price ever sold for an old master painting
Christie's was achieved with £44,882,500 / $58,167,720 /
€52,422,760 for Rubens' Lot and his Daughters.
On 15 November 2017, Leonardo Da Vinci's
Salvator Mundi sold for a
record $450.3 million (including buyer's premium). The buyer was
Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Farhan, his name was revealed by
several media news including The New York Times.
Auction errors at Christie's
Article on Docantic concerning a cabinet incorrectly assigned to René
Art Storage Services (CFASS)
Christie's first ventured into storage services for outside clients in
1984, when it opened a 100,000 square feet brick warehouse in London
that was granted "Exempted Status" by HM Revenue and Customs,
meaning that property may be imported into the
United Kingdom and
stored without incurring import duties and VAT.
Christie's Fine Art
Storage Services, or CFASS, is a wholly owned subsidiary that runs
Christie's storage operation.
In September 2008,
Christie's signed a 50-year lease on an early 1900s
warehouse of the historic New York Dock Company in Red Hook,
Brooklyn, and subsequently spent $30 million converting it into a
six-storey, 250,000 square feet art-storage facility. The
facility opened in 2010 and features high-tech security and climate
controls that maintain a virtually constant 70° and 50% relative
humidity. Since 2009,
Christie's has been the main tenant of the
Singapore FreePort, taking up 40 per cent of the space to offer its
fine art storage services to its global clients.
Located near the Upper Bay tidal waterway near the Atlantic Ocean, the
Brooklyn facility was hit by at least one storm surge during Hurricane
Sandy in 2012. CFASS subsequently faced client defections and
complaints arising from damage to works of art. In 2013,
Insurance filed a lawsuit in New York court alleging that CFASS'
"gross negligence" during the hurricane damaged art collected by late
Gregor Piatigorsky and his wife Jacqueline Rebecca Louise de
Rothschild. Later that year, StarNet Insurance Co., the insurer
LeRoy Neiman Foundation and the artist's estate, also filed a
New York Supreme Court
New York Supreme Court claiming that the storage company's
negligence caused more than $10 million in damages to Neiman's
Christie's Education graduate programmes
The educational arm of
Christie's auction house is called Christie's
Education. It offers graduate programs in
London and New York, and
nondegree programs in London, Paris, New York and Melbourne. It
has colleges in
London and New York accredited by the University of
Glasgow in the UK and the New York State
Board of Regents in the US.
It offers master's degrees, Graduate Diplomas,
Certificates and an Undergraduate Degree. Courses include: Arts of
China; Arts of Europe; Art, Style and Design; Modern and Contemporary
Art (all in London) and History of
Art and the
Art Market (in New
York). Evening programmes in
Art Business and part-time certificates
in continuing education are also offered in
London and New York.
Christie's Images is the picture library for the auction house and has
an archive of several million fine and decorative art images
representing items sold in its sale rooms around the world. With
offices in New York and London, images are available for reproduction.
Christie's is a shareholder in the London-based
Register, a privately owned database used by law enforcement services
worldwide to trace and recover stolen art.
Christie's locations". Christies.com.
^ "Christie's". Groupe Artémis. Archived from the original on 19
Christie's Sales Fall 5% as `Froth' Comes off Global
26 January 2016 – via www.bloomberg.com.
^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah; Brown, Mark (16 November 2017). "How
Salvator Mundi became the most expensive painting ever sold at
auction" – via www.theguardian.com.
^ "Christies.com – About Us". Retrieved 3 December 2008. James
Christie conducted the first sale in
London on 5 December 1766.
^ Gazetteer and
London Daily Advertiser (London, England), 25
September 1762; Issue 10460
^ Sarah Lyall (27 February 1998), Jo Floyd, 74; Led Growth and Change
Christie's New York Times.
^ a b c Carol Vogel (11 February 1997), At the Wire, Auction Fans,
It's, It's . . . Christie's! New York Times.
^ Rita Reif (12 March 1990),
Christie's Reverses Stand on Price
Guarantees New York Times.
^ Carol Vogel (6 May 1998), Frenchman Gets Big Stake In
^ a b Carol Vogel (19 May 1998), Frenchman Seeks the Rest Of
Christie's New York Times.
^ a b Carol Vogel (19 February 1998),
Christie's Ends Talks On
Takeover By Swiss New York Times.
^ Carol Vogel (22 June 2001), Re: Real Estate New York Times.
^ a b Scott Reyburn (17 July 2012), Rothko, Private Sales
Christie's Revenue 13% Bloomberg.
^ Souren Melikian (17 January 2004), The battle of Paris: Christie's
rising International Herald Tribune.
^ Souren Melikian (12 January 2007), How
Christie's kept top spot over
Sotheby's in 2006 sales New York Times.
^ Judd Tully (24 October 2011), Private Sales Go Public: Why
Sotheby's Are Embracing Galleries Like Never Before New
^ Colin Gleadell (27 February 2007),
Christie's move stuns dealers The
^ Kate Taylor (16 April 2007), Auction Houses Vs. Dealers New York
Sarah Thornton (2 June 2010), Smoked venison The Economist.
^ Alexandra Peers (22 June 2008), The Venison Menace New York
Sarah Thornton (2 June 2010), Smoked venison The Economist.
^ Dan Duray (13 September 2011), Flanking the Competition: Haunch of
Venison Gallery Moves Away From Its Auction House Owner New York
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Latour sell-off". (London) Sunday Times. Retrieved 14 January
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Archived 23 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The
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Retrieved 10 February 2016.
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Salesroom and Scale Back in Amsterdam New York Times.
^ Carol Vogel (18 February 2013),
Christie's Raises Its Commissions
for First Time in Five Years New York Times.
^ Spero, Josh (9 March 2017). "
Christie's to close South Kensington
sale room". Financial Times.
^ Media, ATG. "
South Kensington to close sooner than
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Hills Space Los Angeles Times.
^ Gabriella Angeleti (9 February 2017), Christie’s to open new
flagship location in Los Angeles The
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Trial". Forbes. New York. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
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Art of the Steal: Inside the
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Stradivarius tops auction record".
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Art Auction Record". New York Times. Retrieved 13 March
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^ "Christie's". Studiospecial.com. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
^ "Most expensive
Gundam picture sold in history". People's Daily.
Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 28 February
^ "Ink painting of
Gundam sold at historical price". Gamebase.com.tw.
Retrieved 28 February 2012.
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Quiet Hong Kong
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^ "NYC Auction of
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^ "Bacon painting fetches record price". BBC. 12 November 2013.
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^ Swaine, Jon (13 November 2013). "
Francis Bacon triptych smashes art
auction record". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 14 November
^ "Contemporary art market cools, but Modern sector heats up at
Christie's in 2015". theartnewspaper.com. Retrieved 3 February
Oppenheimer Blue diamond sells for world record at auction". The
Guardian. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
^ Alain Truong art blog
Christie's sale record
^ "Leonardo da Vinci painting 'Salvator Mundi' sold for record $450.3
^ a b Kelly Crow (26 April 2010), The Ultimate Walk-In Closet:
Art Storage in Brooklyn Wall Street Journal.
^ a b Laura Gilbert (26 April 2013), An exodus from Red Hook The Art
^ Diane Cardwell (24 August 2009), A High-Tech Home for
Multimillion-Dollar Works of
Art New York Times.
^ Jennifer Maloney (10 May 2013), Builder Is Bullish on New York
Art Storage Market: Developer Starts Construction of Art
Storage Facility in Long Island City Wall Street Journal.
^ Laura Gilbert (20 August 2013), Axa sues
Christie's storage services
over Sandy damage The
^ Laura Gilbert (12 December 2013),
Christie's storage hit by second
lawsuit over storm damage The
^ Karen W. Arenson (20 October 2005), Getting a Master's Looking at
the Masters New York Times.
Art Loss Register, Ltd.: "The
Art Loss Register is the world's
largest database of stolen art and antiques dedicated to their
recovery. Its shareholders include Christie's, Bonhams, members of the
insurance industry and art trade associations. " Retrieved 27
J. Herbert, Inside Christie's, London, 1990 (ISBN 978-0340430439)
P. A. Colson, The Story of Christie's, London, 1950
H. C. Marillier, Christie's, 1766–1925, London, 1926
M. A. Michael, A Brief History of
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2008 (ISBN 978-0955780707)
W. Roberts, Memorials of Christie's, 2 vols, London, 1897
"Going Once." Phaidon Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0-7148-7202-5.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christie's.
Christie's Education Graduate Programmes official website
Christie's International Real Estate – Luxury Properties and Estates
Christie's page on Arcadja
Art database with several auction catalogs
Bill Brooks – Daily Telegraph obituary
Art Storage Services – Offi