Christie’s Auctioneers Release Record Half Year Results Of £2.9 Billion

Christie's auctioneers

Christie’s have announced record half year sales of £2.9 billion, up 8% $4.5 billion, up 0% on last year’s figures from the same period. The Results were seen across numerous categories importantly Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art and Asian Art. 

In recent months Christie’s has focused on new curatorial presentations and a revised sales calendar to attract collectors at all levels across all geographies, and continues to invest in online platforms as well as traditional salerooms and Private Sales. New clients represented 24% of buyers. The number of middle market buyers grew by 14% and further reflects the continued commitment of Christie’s to offering art and objects across a broad spectrum of collecting areas and price points. 

Christie’s Chief Executive Officer, Patricia Barbizet, said: “This season, using thoughtful curatorial innovation, we have worked with our clients to explore different genres, geographies and eras of creativity as the boundaries of their taste and interests expand. During the first half of 2015 Christie’s clients spanned 99 countries, demonstrating how truly international sales activity is at all levels and reflecting the expanse of the art market. We are meeting new demands while continuing to show strength in core categories and maintaining market share. Buyer activity of lots between £100,000 and £1,000,000 continues to grow, with the number of buyers up 14%. Our early investment in online and E-commerce platforms continues to add value across the business. We look forward to more innovative collaboration across categories and regions during the second half and remain fluid as we challenge traditional models of auction for new models of selling art.” 

Modern and Impressionist Art at Christie’s enjoyed its strongest first half result ever, closing the season at £771.6 million ($1.19 billion) in total global sales and re-establishing Christie’s as the global market leader in this category. Continuing demand in this category was demonstrated by two significant records set in May: a new world auction record of $179.4 million for any work of art, set through Christie’s sale of Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, (Version “O”), and a new world auction record of $141.3 million for any sculpture, set by Alberto Giacometti’s L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man). The related categories of Modern British Art, American Paintings, and Latin American Paintings that make up the Impressionist and Modern Art group also performed well in the first half, realising a combined total of £848.2 million, an increase of 36% over the same period last year ($1.3 billion, up 27%). Christie’s continues to lead the market in the Post-War & Contemporary Art category, increasing sales by 16% to £927.7 million ($1.4 billion, up 8%). The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 13 May in New York achieved sales of $661.1 million, highlighting an innovative cross-category sale week that set a new and unprecedented benchmark in auction history, generating a total of $1.7 billion. 

Asian Art increased sales 34% to £298.3 million ($461.4 million, up 25%). This reflects in part the success of the collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth at Christie’s New York in March which realised a combined total of $134 million, quadruple pre-sale expectations. In addition, the results of Hong Kong’s sale series in May and June further strengthened this statistic. Sales in Old Masters, including 19th Century European Paintings and Russian Art fell 32% to £71.1 million ($110 million, down 37%). This was felt across the whole market due in part to a drop in consignments for the half year and buyer selectivity. Christie’s retained its market leadership in the Luxury category, which included Jewellery, with sales totalling £247.2 million ($382.3 million). 

Strong results were recorded by sales totals in each region, with the Americas showing record half year growth of 35% to £1.4 billion ($2.2 billion, up 26%), in part reflecting the record-breaking New York sales in May. 

Sales totalled £835.5 million ($1.3 billion), for EMERI a 4% decrease on the same period last year (11% in $). Activity from the Middle East was strong, with the number of buyers for the region increasing 14%. New buyers increased 8% in the region for the period, with an 87% growth in spend. Dubai saw sales growth of 17% by value, increasing to £9.7 million ($14.9 million, up 9%). Several key European sites had a successful first half, with Italy showing a 73% growth in sales total to £14 million ($21.7 million, up 61%) and Paris experiencing growth of 41% to £88.8 million ($137.3 million, up 31%). Amsterdam also grew its sales 24% to £14.7 million ($22.8 million, up 16%). Several significant sales in London beat their high estimate, including the February Art of the Surreal Evening Sale, which totalled £67 million against a high estimate of £53.5 million. 

Recently developed areas like Asia continued to perform well in many areas. Sales in the region were up 16% to £294.2 million ($455.1 million, up 8%), with Hong Kong seeing strong results for June sales of £269 million ($417.6 million) and the June Magnificent Jewellery auction achieving the highest ever total for Asia at £77.9 million ($117.9 million). 

Chinese buyers also increased spend in global sales by 47%. Commitment to sale innovation and reaching new customers continues to be a priority in the region, with Shanghai introducing a series of creative sale concepts and fresh new works of art highlighting emerging Chinese contemporary artists, and Chinese and Asian Contemporary Design planned for the Autumn season. 

Escalating prices have brought value growth across the board with 21% increase in EMERI buyer spend, 18% increase in the Americas and 15% increase in Asia. 

The overall Auction Sales realised £2.6 billion ($4 billion). Online Sales realised £9.9 million ($15.3 million) as Ecommerce continues to be an important entry point for collectors, accounting for 16% of all new buyers. 

The area most watched in recent months have been online art sales which have also proved successful in markets including Asia, where buyers online have increased 31%. 74% of visitors to the E-commerce channel were new to in 2015. Interest from middle-market highlights the importance of sites such as South Kensington in London which attracted 23% of new buyers to the company. Private Sales are on track for a record year with £333 million ($515 million) in sales for the first six months of 2015 with a significant pipeline of business activity expected to close in the second half of 2015.

Photo: P C Robinson © artlyst 2015


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