Boom - Christie's post record results

July 23 2012

Image of Boom - Christie's post record results

Picture: Christie's

Apart from a dip in Chinese sales, Christie's have seen big rises in all sectors. From Reuters:

Christie's announced record first-half art sales of 2.2 billion pounds on Tuesday, a rise of 13 percent over the same period of 2011 and further evidence of the strength of the high end of the market.

The world's largest auctioneer reported auction sales of 1.8 billion in the first six months of 2012, seven percent up on a year ago, while private art sales soared 53 percent to 413 million pounds. All figures include buyer's premium.

However, there was a steep drop in Asian and Middle Eastern auction revenues to 234 million pounds, 23 percent down on the first half of 2011 as rampant Chinese buying cooled.

In terms of auction categories, the post-war and contemporary sector rose by 34 percent to 576 million pounds, jewellery jumped 28 percent to 190 million and old masters and 19th century art was up 50 percent to 72 million.

Encouraging news too from the lower end of the market:

Several experts have warned that the disparity between art values and the broader economy cannot continue forever and that while the most coveted works are rising in value, other sectors of the art market are less healthy.

Christie's noted, however, that sales at its South Kensington showrooms in London, where lesser works are typically sold, had risen 23 percent to 73 million pounds in the first six months.

How clever Christie's have been to keep hold of their South Kensington saleroom, and to run it with such panache. A few years ago there was talk of closure, especially after Sotheby's ditched their Olympia saleroom. Having a seperate premises for lower value items allows greater flexibility, and builds loyalty among the next generation of collectors. It also means that the main salerooms aren't cluttered with mediocre lots during the more important sales, which is often the case at Sotheby's. A good example of the versatility that South Kensington offers is the forthcoming 'London Sale' (3rd September), which includes the above famous photo by Norman Parkinson, 'New Look at the National Gallery' (est. £4-£4,500). You can even buy an old Routemaster London bus (est. £20-£30,000).

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