Crooks Crack Christie's King Street

London -- Thieves breached stringent security at Christie's flagship headquarters on King Street to pull off a heist valued at up to a million pounds.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network have spent many hours perusing unique merchandise offered at this historic venue.

The stolen items, thought to be mostly jewelry and small antiques, included works by the Russian jewelers Fabergé.

Even though they have closed caption TV footage of the theft which has been kept under wraps for the past two weeks, police have failed to identify any of the suspects. The thieves are thought to be of Eastern European background.

Christie’s is the world's leading art business. It runs global auctions and private sales. In the first half of 2014 sales totaled £2.69 / $4.47 billion, making it the highest half year total in Christie’s history.

Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, as well as international glamor. The auction house has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful.

Christie’s offers around 450 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million.

Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewelry. Private sales in the first half of 2014 totaled £498.9 million ($828.2 million).

Christie’s has a global presence with 53 offices in 32 countries and 12 salesrooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mumbai.

More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in growth markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.

Venerable Timeline

Christie's was founded in 1766 by James Christie. He held a sale in his "Great Rooms" on London's Pall Mall, offering items including two chamber pots and two pillowcases.

By 1778, James Christie had moved on to art auctions, and arranged the sale of Sir Robert Walpole’s collection of pictures on behalf of his grandson, George Walpole. They were sold to Catherine the Great of Russia for £40,000.

In 1795, Christie made £25,000 selling the contents of Sir Joshua Reynolds' studio over the course of five days.

James Christie's son, another James, takes over the business on his father's death in 1803.

In 1823, Christie's moved to its present London headquarters at 8 King Street in St James's. It has held its famous auctions here ever since.

Christie's sale of the Duke of Buckingham's collection, the Stowe House sale, lasted for 40 days and raised £75,562 in 1848.

In 1892, Christie's sold its first Impressionist painting, Degas' L’Absinthe, for £189. It now hangs in the Louvre.

In 1941, Christie's headquarters suffered a direct hit during the Blitz and moved to Derby House, near Oxford Street, only returning to King Street in 1953.

Christie's opens its first overseas office, in Rome, in 1958. The company now has 10 salerooms around the world, in cities including New York, Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong.

In 1978, Christie's auctions Velazquez’s Portrait of Juan de Pareja and it fetches £2.3m. It is the first work of art to sell for over £1m. The painting now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Christie's lists on the London Stock Exchange in 1973.

In 1984, a sale of Old Master drawings from the collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth fetches £20m.

Van Gogh's Sunflowers is sold for £24.75m in 1987.

In 1990, Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet becomes the most expensive work of art ever sold when it fetches £49.1m at Christie’s in New York.

Jewels from the personal collection of Princess Salimah Aga Khan are sold in Geneva for £27.7m in 1995.

Christie's is bought by Artemis in 1998.

In 2000, the Collection of The Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild sells at Christie’s in London for £57.7m, the highest ever total for a single owner sale in Europe.

Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio by J.M.W. Turner fetches $35.65m in 2006, setting a new world auction record for a British painting.

In 2007, Christie’s acquires Haunch of Venison, a contemporary art gallery with exhibition spaces in London, New York and Berlin.

In 2008, Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale realises £144.4m, the highest ever total for an art auction held in Europe.

Pablo Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust from the Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody sold for a record $106.48m in 2010, breaking the world record for the most expensive artwork sold at auction.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video reveals some secrets of Christie's historic London home.