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Rufus Bird, who served as Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art from 2018 until 2021 and as Deputy Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art from 2010 until 2017, has joined Duke’s Auctioneers. He will be responsible for developing a new Heritage and Valuations Division drawing on his unrivalled experience at the Royal Household, and previously as a Director at Christie’s, London.

Contact Rufus at: [email protected] or 01305 265080

The Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important private art collections in the world. In his role as Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art, Rufus was responsible for almost 500,000 objects comprising arms and armour, ceramics, clocks, furniture, silver, jewellery, sculpture, world cultures, textiles, costume and tapestries displayed across some fifteen historic and official Royal Residences, principally Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Whilst at Royal Collection Trust, Rufus introduced up-to-date preventive conservation or collection care practices into the Royal Household. 

Prior to joining Royal Collection Trust, Rufus was a Director at Christie’s London, working in the Furniture Department where he was responsible for a number of important private collection and country house auctions. He was a major contributor to the scholarly catalogue of the remarkable contents of Dumfries House, which included the exceptional corpus of furniture by Thomas Chippendale commissioned by the Earl of Dumfries. 

After HRH The Prince of Wales’s last-minute intervention in 2007, which saved the house and contents from sale, Rufus served as trustee charged with the long-term preservation and care of the house and collection (now the headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation) from 2014 until 2020. 

Rufus has published and lectured widely on the decorative arts. He is a co-author of Jean-Henri Riesener: Cabinetmaker to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, published in 2020 and was co-curator of the highly acclaimed exhibition Charles II: Art & Power at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 2017-18.  He is also one of the three authors of the forthcoming official history of St James’s Palace; he oversaw the three-volume publication by John Ayers, Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of HM The Queen, 2016, which saw the publication of over 2,000 Asian works of art in the Royal Collection.

He is well known in both the art trade and across the international museum community and has lectured across the world, at institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection in New York, at the White House Historical Association in Washington D.C., at the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, the Min Chiu Society in Hong Kong, the Oriental Ceramic Society of London, and regularly at The Queen’s Gallery. He has appeared on BBC television and radio documentaries including The First Georgians (2014) presented by Lucy Worsley and Art, Passion & Power: The Story of the Royal Collection (2018) presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon.

Rufus will bring his exceptional blend of curatorial and commercial expertise to the new Heritage and Valuation Division at Duke’s.  Rufus commented: “The UK and European regional auction market is vibrant right now and has seen an upsurge in interest in recent years. I am excited to be joining Duke’s Auctions where we will be developing a new collection care service for private collections. The idea is simple: to provide clients with a single, all-embracing service covering every aspect of collections management. If clients require specific advice on collections care we can provide it. If clients need guidance on revising presentation and interpretation of publicly accessible collections, we can help. We will also be able to provide the usual professional confidential advice on valuations, sales by private treaty, family division, succession planning, or acceptance in lieu. Our remit is wide but our focus is singular – providing our clients with the best possible advice for their collections.”

With his contacts in museums, galleries, conservators and private collections around the world, Rufus will also be able to identify buyers for major works of art. In recent years Duke’s has negotiated some major private treaty sales and Rufus will contribute strategic advice. He will also be advising on the sale of private collections and country house auctions, building on the success of the sale of the contents of Wormington Grange in Gloucestershire, sold by Duke’s in May 2021 for almost £2 million. 

Underlining his expertise, Rufus is also currently retained as a consultant on furniture and historic interiors to the Royal Collection Trust. He was recently appointed LVO by Her Majesty The Queen in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 in recognition of his service to the Royal Collection Trust over the past decade. The photograph above was taken in November 2019 for a collection of portraits of those whose job titles referenced The Queen. The photograph was taken when Rufus was in post as Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art and the book, Queen’s in their Name, by Julian Calder, has been published recently.