Christie's Auction Site Offline After Cyberattack, Disrupting $840M Spring Sales

Christie's auction house website was taken offline due to a cyberattack, just days before its highly anticipated spring auctions in New York. The sales, estimated to be worth $840 million, feature prominent artworks by masters like Warhol, Basquiat, and Picasso.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Christie's Auction Site Offline After Cyberattack, Disrupting $840M Spring Sales

Christie's Auction Site Offline After Cyberattack, Disrupting $840M Spring Sales

Christie's, the renowned auction house, has beenhitby a cyberattack, forcing it to take its website offline just days before its highly anticipated spring auctions in New York. The sales, estimated to be worth a staggering $840 million, feature prominent artworks by masters such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso.

Why this matters: The cyberattack on Christie's highlights the vulnerability of the art world to digital threats, which can have far-reaching consequences for the global art market and its stakeholders. As the art market increasingly relies ononline platforms, the incident serves as a wake-up call for auction houses and collectors to prioritize cybersecurity measures to protect valuable assets.

The cyberattack was first noticed on Thursday evening, and by Friday morning, the website was completely offline, redirecting visitors to a placeholder page with contact information for Christie's offices in major art capitals. Edward Lewine, a Christie's spokesman, confirmed the incident, stating, "Christie's confirms that a technology security issue has impacted some of our systems, including our website. We are taking all necessary steps to manage this matter, with the engagement of a team of additional technology experts."

The timing of the attack is particularly concerning, as Christie's prepares for its marquee spring auctions next week. The sales include several high-profile lots, such as Monet's riverscape "Moulin de Limetz" (1888), expected to fetch up to $25 million, and Basquiat's "The Italian Version of Popeye has no Pork in his Diet" (1982), estimated to sell for around $30 million. The auctions also feature the coveted holdings from influential Miami-based collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz.

The art world has increasingly become a target for cybercriminals in recent years, with hackers targeting web-based services such as client portals and online cataloging systems. Chelsea Binns, a cybercrime expert who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, noted, "It is difficult for companies to get ahead of cybercrimes because the attacks keep evolving." Art adviser Todd Levin expressed concerns about the impact on potential buyers and sellers, questioning, "How can potential bidders access the catalog?"

Christie's, with a rich history spanning over 250 years, is no stranger to the challenges of the digital age. In September 2023, the auction house experienced a data breach that affected photographs of paintings and sculptures uploaded to the site for review. As the company works to resolve thecurrent issueand minimize further disruption, the art world anxiously awaits the fate of the upcoming spring auctions and the masterpieces set to go under the hammer.