Christie’s continues to lead the art auction market in 2017

In May 2017 Christie’s New York sold Constantin Brancusi’s “La muse endormie” (1913) for $57,367,500. Photo: Screenshot of christies.comOverall sales total £2.35 billion ($3 billion) in the first half of the year, with auction sales up 29% on the equivalent figure for 2016 and sell-through rates up to 81%.

LONDON. Continued global demand and creative sale planning helped to drive a rise in Christie’s auction sales to £2.2 billion ($2.8 billion, up 14%) in the first half of 2017, a 29% increase from the same period in 2016. Overall sales were £2.35 billion ($3 billion, up 1%), an increase of 14% compared to £2.1 billion worth of sales in the first half of 2016, announced

‘Christie’s continues to lead the auction market,’ commented Guillaume Cerutti, Chief Executive Officer, after half-year figures also showed there was an increase in the number of works sold over £10 million. Christie’s sold 38 lots that surpassed this figure, compared to 14 from the same period last year. There was also a 29% increase in the number of new buyers over £1 million.

Collectors continue to seek diverse works of art across price levels and categories. Demand for masterpieces has continued, with seven of the ten top lots from the first half of 2017 having been sold at Christie’s. Auction sell-through rates across all lots bands, meanwhile, increased to 81%.

Total spend online was £75.3 million ($95.8 million) for the first half of the year, when combining the totals for Christie’s LIVE, £55.5 million ($70.6 million), and online-only sales, which remained stable at £19.8 million ($25.2 million). Online-only sales continue to attract the largest number of new buyers (29%). Sell-through rates by lot for sales online rose to 81% and the average price per lot increased to $7,222.

Growth in spend was seen across each region, with clients based in America accounting for 35% of sale value, Asian clients accounting for 35% and EMERI (Europe, Middle East, Russia and India) clients 30%.

‘Activity from Asian buyers has reached a new high, demonstrating Christie’s strength in this part of the world’Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer.

Clients from Asia spent 39% more at Christie’s in the first half of 2017. Client spend from the Americas and EMERI was also up 38% and 9% respectively.

There was a 90% increase in spending on Asian Art from Asian clients, due in part to the record-breaking sales of Asian Art in New York in March. Asian buying was also significant in Decorative Arts and Impressionist and Modern Art, with more than 20% of the lots in the London Impressionist and Modern Art sale bought by clients from Asia.

‘Activity from Asian buyers has reached a new high, demonstrating Christie’s strength in this part of the world,’ confirmed Guillaume Cerutti. ‘We are encouraged by these results, and continue to adapt our operations to the new international context with the opening of our new flagship premises in Los Angeles. We look forward to a strong second half of 2017 and beyond, with preparations beginning for the Rockefeller sale in the spring of 2018.’

Max Beckmann’s record-breaking Hölle der Vögel achieved £36 million ($45.8 million) in June in London. Photo: christies.comSelected highlights
from the first half of 2017

Impressionist and Modern and Post-War and Contemporary Art: Highlights have included Constantin Brancusi’s (1876-1957) La muse endormie (1913) - sold in New York for $57,367,500; Max Beckmann’s (1884-1950) Hölle der Vögel (1937-1938) – sold in London for £36,005,000; and Cy Twombly’s (1928-2011) Leda and the Swan (1962) – sold in New York for $52,887,500.

Luxury: Luxury Week sales continue to perform well, with 29% of new buyers engaging with the Luxury category (Jewellery, Watches, Wine and Handbags). Christie’s Geneva set a new record for any heart-shaped diamond sold at auction, realising SFr14,767,50 / $14,989,012 (price per carat $163,016), and Christie’s New York set a new auction record of $305,000 per carat with The Rockefeller Emerald, which realised $5,511,500.

Asian Art: Asian Art Week in New York in March achieved the highest total for an art auction series in the category, realising $332,783,188 / HK$2,573,500,630. The highlight of the week was the record-breaking evening sale of Important Chinese Art from the Fujita Museum, which alone achieved $262,839,500.

Asian Art Week in London in May saw a magnificent pair of famille rose ‘butterfly’ vases sold for £14,725,000 / $19,054,150. Christie’s Hong Kong Spring sales in May totalled HK$2,446,964,634 / $315,658,926. The top lot of this sale season was the world-record breaking 29.09.64 by Zao Wou-Ki, which sold for HK$152,860,000 / $19,712,015 – more than three times the high estimate.

Decorative Arts & Design: Sales across Christie’s saw a 19% increase in new buyers transacting between £5,000 and £1 million. The highlight in the first half of 2017 was the sale of Diego Giacometti (1902-1985), brother of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), furniture from the collection of Hubert Givenchy (1927) held in Paris in March, which achieved a total of €32,748,500 / £28,157,160, and saw 100% of the lots sold above their pre-sale estimate.

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Outlook for 2017 & 2018

New YorkChristie’s has been instructed to sell The Estate of David Rockefeller in 2018. Proceeds from the personal collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, which is estimated to include over 2,000 individual items and spans numerous collecting categories, will benefit a dozen charities, continuing their philanthropic legacy. The sales will be held in spring 2018 at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center in New York City.

LondonOn 27 September Christie’s King Street headquarters will sell the personal collection of Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), film and stage actress, fashion legend and humanitarian, run concurrently with an online sale. Highlights include her extensive personal wardrobe and her own annotated working copies of film scripts including Breakfast at Tiffany’s. After 11 years of holding bi-annual sale seasons in the Middle East and establishing an international platform for Middle Eastern artists, Christie’s will hold its first Middle Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art sale in London in October to coincide with Islamic Week. In November Christie’s London will hold a sale of British Impressionism alongside the regular Modern British and Irish Art sales, which will bring together avant-garde English, Scottish and Irish artists who were inspired by French Impressionism and plein-air painting.

Paris - In September Christie’s Paris will hold a three-day sale of the personal collection of the interior designer Alberto Pinto. During FIAC and Christie’s 20th Century Week in October, Christie’s will sell the Prat Collection of Modern, Post-War and Contemporary art.

ShanghaiOn 24 September Christie’s Shanghai will hold sales of First Open and 20th Century & Contemporary Art, with highlights announced in the coming months.

In October Christie’s Education will begin a five-week long course, entitled Inside the Global Art World, the first of a series of online courses which will make the study of art history and the art market accessible to students around the world.

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