Athena's first shop was opened by Ole Christensen in Hampstead, London in July 1964, and then bought by E&O which expanded Athena to 60 shops, making sure to keep the ethos on fine art reprints.
Eventually the chain was sold off by E&O in 1977 to the Pentos Group before Athena went into administration when it failed in 1995. The profitable stores were reopened by its former franchisees  but the last of these shops in Exeter, Devon ceased trading in September 2014, bringing its high street era to an end. This was due to rising shop rents and rates, plus increasing competition from internet retailers.
The e-commerce company Vivarti currently trades online with the byline powered by Athena, but it was never connected with Athena. With the rise of digital media, many of the famous prints that were sold by Athena like the Tennis Girl can be bought at other retailers like Amazon, AllPosters & King and McGaw which was described in August 2013 by the The Daily Telegraph as the Athena for the internet age.