Christie's and Sotheby's 2018 half-year results
Art Market | The announcement of Christie’s and Sotheby’s respective results for the first semester 2018 has revealed a strong upward trend : + 35% for Christie’s with a sales volume of $4 billion, + 22% for Sotheby’s with a sales volume of $3.5 billion. Although these results are overall positive, they must be interpreted with some discernment.
These positive results are mainly due to sales taking place in the United States, particularly for Christie’s. The British auction house made $2.13 billion in the US, which represents more than half of its sales volume (+ 45% compared to the first half of 2017). This is largely due to the dispersion of the collection Peggy et David Rockefeller ($835,111,344 - 100% sales rate) and the major New York spring sales, during which it outpaced Sotheby’s :
- $415,852,500 for the Impressionist and Modern Art sale in May 2018 (89% sales rate) compared to $318,313,600 for Sotheby’s (71% sales rate).
- $397,159,500 for the Post-War and Contemporary Art sale (91% sales rate) against $284,542,500 for Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s differs from its rival on the Asian continent, where it reached a total sale of $488 million (+ 15%) against a $416.7 million sale for Christie’s (+ 33%). As in the previous year, Sotheby’s also attained higher numbers on the private sales sector with a total of $543 million (+ 63%). However, we can also note how, after a fall of 64% in its private sales during the first half of 2017 ($155.4 million), Christie’s reached a 151% growth in this area in 2018 ($ 390.3 million).
One of the auction houses’ common points is the reinforcement of their digital platforms, which are constantly improving. Digital sales represent $119.7 million, which translates into a growth of 25% over the previous period and just over $100 million according to Sotheby’s (+ 30%).
Despite having reached a record number of auctions exceeding $10 million - 55 for Christie’s and 35 for Sotheby’s in 2018 - we observe results below the expectations among the best sales in the first semester, particularly concerning works guaranteed by third parties :
- Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani was sold for $139 million (hammer price), far from the low estimate of $150 million;
- La Fillette à la corbeille fleurie (1905) by Picasso, was sold at Christie’s for $102 million (hammer price), just above the low estimate of $ 100 million.
- Capitalized in the stock market, Sotheby’s has reported a 23% drop in its net income, parallel to the rise of its sales volume. This loss can be explained by the strong competition existing in the high-end art market segment and the double-edged mechanism of guaranteed sales. It is also worth noting how Sotheby’s mentioned the possibility of a reduction in headcount in an article published in The Art Newspaper.
- When it comes to Christie’s growth, we can see that in the past two years it has relied on exceptional sales : Salvator Mundi in 2017 and the Peggy and David Rockefeller collection in 2018.
Publié le 09/09/2018
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