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Christie’s: the auction market’s leader in 2017

Art Market | After obtaining mixed results in 2016, Christie’s attained total global sales of 6.6 billion dollars in 2017 - a 21% increase in comparison with 2016 (5.4 billion dollars). The year’s sales were driven by important structural changes and exceptional sales including major collections. Once again, the auction house confirmed its leading position with respect to Sotheby’s.

Jussi Pylkkänen durant la vente du Salvator Mundi de Leonardo da Vinci à Christie’s New York en novembre 2017 © Christie’s
Jussi Pylkkänen durant la vente du Salvator Mundi de Leonardo da Vinci à Christie’s New York en novembre 2017
© Christie’s

The total global sales published by Christie’s reflect a strong growth across all sectors, regions and categories; in America they reached $3.2 billion (+62%), in the European/Middle Eastern area $2 billion (+11%) and in Asia $ 754.9 million (+7%). The auction house also reported that 37% of its buyers were European or Middle Eastern, while American and Asian customers represented 32% and 31% respectively.

Auction sales increased by 33% in 2017 in comparison with 2016 ($4.4 billion) and 5% in relation to 2015 ($5.64 billion), reaching a total of $5.9 billion. The Post-War & Contemporary Art department and the Impressionist and Modern Art one had a 20% and 53% increase in sales, attaining $1.6 billion each, which represented more than half the global sales.

In 2017 the British auction house monopolized 7 of the 10 best sales at the global level, selling 65 lots exceeding $10 million against 26 lots in 2016. Among the record sales we find the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting, purchased by prince heir Mohammed Ben Salmane in New York for $ 450.3 million.
Other memorable sales took place in 2017, including the following works :

Laboureur dans un champ by Vincent van Gogh ($81.312.500),

Contraste de formes by Fernand Léger ($70.062.500 / auction record for the artist),

Sixty Last Suppers by Andy Warhol ($60.875.000),

La muse endormie by Constantin Brancusi ($ 57.367.500 / auction record for the artist),

- Leda and the Swan by Cy Twombly ($52.887.500),

Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer by Francis Bacon ($51.767.500).

Christie’s exceptional turnover was also largely due to the sale of prestigious private collections. On March 2017, 33 artworks from the Fujita Museum were auctioned in New York, reaching a final result of $262.839.500 (the highest number for a private collection in history). The growing interest toward Asian art was also reflected by the sale of the Ruth and Carl Barron collection, ($ 841,668/ 100% of assigned lots), the Harris collection ($ 1,111,250/ 93% of sold lots) and Marie Theresa L. Virata collection (25,352.750 $/ 95% of assigned lots), all three took place in March.

In France, the Hubert de Givenchy collection (32,748,500€) and the http://www.christies.com/collection-alberto-pinto-27294.aspx?saletitle Alberto Pinto collection] (11,859,269 €) - which have a 100% sales rate - as well as that of Jean-François and Marie-Aline Prat (39,558,988 €) have contributed to the 44% growth rate of the Parisian sales.

Regarding online sales, in 2016 the digital sector reached $217 million while in 2017 it made $214.5 million, meaning there was a slight decrease of -1.2%. The tendency can be explained by the fact that there were less online sales last year (85 in 2017 and 118 in 2016). Several points must be considered :
- Although purely “online” sales keep growing : $72.5 million in 2017 against $67.1 million in 2016, there has been a considerable slowdown : between 2015 and 2016 sales grew +84% and between 2016 and 2017 they merely increased by +8%.
- The average value of lots sold online in 2017 reached $7.305 against $6.047 in 2016 (+21%).
- Alexander Calder’s work Sans Titre (1961) sold for $1.568.972 during the Paris Avant-Garde sale in October, becoming the highest auction sale realized on Christie’s LIVE platform.

The overall positive results in 2017 (excluding the significant drop in private sales, $611.8 million / -35% compared to 2016) close a year marked by changes for the British auction house, such as the redundancy plan put in place after Guillaume Cerutti’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer (which saw the departure of 200 employees), and the nomination of the tandem Alex Rotter / Loic Gouzer to take charge of the Post-War and Contemporary Art department.

Vincent Kozsilovics
Publié le 13/02/2018
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Version française

Jussi Pylkkänen durant la vente du Salvator Mundi de Leonardo da Vinci à Christie's New York en novembre 2017 © Christie's

Jussi Pylkkänen durant la vente du Salvator Mundi de Leonardo da Vinci à Christie’s New York en novembre 2017
© Christie’s

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