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A hacker group known as RansomHub has claimed responsibility for a cyberattack on Christie's auction website and is threatening to release highly confidential personal information about auction clients, reports The New York Times.

An attack in early May forced the auction house to shut down its main website on May 9, after which it remained unavailable for 10 days, including during the spring sell-out.

Hacker RansomHub released information on the shadowy DarkNet network, saying it had gained access to confidential information about the world's richest art collectors, while making the names and dates of birth of some into public domain.

It was not immediately possible to verify RansomHub’s claims, but several cybersecurity experts said they were a known ransomware operation and that the claim was plausible. 

The group said it would release the data, posting a countdown timer that would reach zero by the end of May, and that Christie's was unable to pay the ransom initially demanded.

A spokesperson for Christie's confirmed in a statement to Artsy that the auction house experienced a security-related technology incident earlier this month and took immediate action to protect its systems.

Auction house representatives added that Christie's is currently notifying privacy regulators and government agencies. Also, they will contact affected clients shortly.

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