Art is our cornerstone, central to everything we do here at Christie’s. We believe that access to beautiful and special objects is an important part of people’s personal and cultural life and this is the lens through which we consider our activities in the workplace, community, and environment.
For over 250-years, Christie’s has the unique honour and privilege of stewarding great works of art with our clients, from one generation to another, across cultures and era. Today we continue to work closely with artists and the world’s leading art and cultural institutions.
Charity Auctions at Christie’s
Christie’s is proud to support philanthropic initiatives through our networks, whether by facilitating the sale of artwork to benefit important causes; offering, when we can, our salerooms as a venue for fundraising events; or providing expert charity auctioneers. In 2019, Christie’s auctioneers assisted with more than 400 benefit auctions around the world, raising more than $65 million and sold over $20 million of lots externally.
Christie’s has recently entered into a collaboration with two companies that offer comprehensive platforms and solutions to optimize philanthropic fundraising. Harnessing the technological power of our three-way partnership with Charitybuzz and Givergy, both leaders in their fields, Christie’s institutional clients can now take advantage of a comprehensive technology solution to handle all of their auctions’ online and event needs and to unlock new revenue streams.
PRESS RELEASE | CHRISTIE’S X CHARITYBUZZ: New Referral Program Offers Christie’s Institutional Clients The Ability To Extend Their Philanthropic Impact
Under the High Patronage and in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, Only Watch held its 8th auction of unique timepieces in Geneva.
The 50 one-of-a-kind timepieces were auctioned by Christie’s in a packed and dynamic saleroom, attended by international supporters, collectors, philanthropists, watchmaking manufacturer representatives, and press.
The auction raised a total of €35,106,420. The record-breaking proceeds benefit research against Muscular Dystrophy.
About the lot
Biennial auction of 50 one-off luxury timepieces made by the finest watch manufacturers for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
After an extended campaign, 10 days of online sales and three days of dynamic live auctions at Christie’s Rockefeller Center, the total for the 1,500 objects comprising The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller reached $835,111,344/ £720,599,874. The sale well exceeded initial expectations and established the highest auction total ever for a private collection at auction — nearly doubling the previous record held by the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé, which totaled $443 million.
The most significant charitable auction in history, all of the estate proceeds were directed to philanthropies that Peggy and David Rockefeller supported during their lifetimes.The Rockefeller Estate has donated more than $200 million to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the first major donation of the proceeds from the sale in the largest donation the museum has received to date.
In June 2019, Christie's sold The David Gilmour Guitar Collection: the personal guitar collection of the rock 'n' roll legend David Gilmour — guitarist, singer and songwriter of Pink Floyd.
With more than 120 guitars, including his preferred Fender models of Broadcasters, Esquires, Telecasters and Stratocasters, the auction on 20 June marked a rare opportunity for guitar aficionados, musicians and collectors to explore one of the world’s most comprehensive groupings of guitars that hooked generations.
“David Gilmour's remarkable gift will support our work battling the climate crisis and protecting nature for future generations.”
- James Thornton, CEO, ClientEarth: Watch Video, 19 June 2019.
In March 2017, Christie’s offered 14 works donated by leading contemporary artists in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction in London. The proceeds from the sale were donated to the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which is committed to representing a vast range of artists from Africa and the diaspora, and is the largest museum to open on the continent in more than 100 years.
Zeitz MOCAA constitutes a re-imagining of a museum within an African context: celebrating Africa preserving its own cultural legacy, writing its own history and defining itself on its own terms.
In June 2011’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in London, Christie’s offered Pablo Picasso’s portrait of Marie-Thèrése Walter sleeping. The proceeds went to Australia’s University of Sydney to fund the creation of endowed chairs across several disciplines within a new University centre dedicated to the research of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The University of Sydney is a leading comprehensive research and teaching university committed to the transformative power of education and to fostering greater knowledge and understanding of the world and its people.
In May 2013’s Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong, Christie’s offered Yan Pei-Ming’s Bruce Lee – Fighting Spirit to benefit the Louvre Museum. The sale of the work realized HKD 10,590,000.
The work was generously donated by the artist through the Société des Amis du Louvre (French Society of the Friends of the Louvre). All of the proceeds were donated to the Louvre Museum for the refurbishment of its 18th Century Decorative Arts Galleries.
Established in 1793 and located in Paris, the Louvre Museum is the world’s largest art museum,
In May 2013, Christie’s, working with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, was pleased to present the 11th Hour Auction —the most important wildlife charity sale ever staged— which offered works by many of the world’s preeminent Contemporary artists, many of whom created works specifically for this cause.
The sale achieved $38,827,000 and established 13 new world auction records, with 9 works of art selling for more than one million dollars. An anonymous donor also contributed $5 million to match the prices realized for the three tiger paintings in the sale, which were by Zeng Fanzhi, Robert Longo and Takashi Murakami, in order to specifically protect the animals. The monetary contributions of a number of other donors during the sale totaled an additional $500,000.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is dedicated to protecting the planet’s last wild places and fostering a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world. Since 1998, the Foundation has been working on pressing environmental and humanitarian issues through grant making, campaigning and media projects.
In May 2012, Christie’s offered Yves Klein’s legendary Fire-Color Painting, FC 1, as a highlight of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The work achieved $36.5 million at auction, establishing a new world record price for the artist at the time of the sale.
A portion of the proceeds of the sale of FC 1 was donated to OCEANA, the largest international organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans.
OCEANA and Christie’s have a partnership dating back several years, beginning with Christie’s first annual Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth in April 2010, with subsequent sales in 2011 and 2012.
“OCEANA is very grateful to be part of this opportunity…This partnership with Christie’s is a perfect example of the kind of creative thinking that helps produce the policy changes that will save the oceans.”
- Andy Sharpless, OCEANA CEO
In May 2012, Christie’s was entrusted with the sale of selected works from Mrs. Lily Safra’s magnificent jewelry collection, from which the full proceeds were generously donated to 32 different charitable institutions.
Jewels For Hope: The Collection of Mrs. Lily Safra realized $37.9 million, and was 100% sold both by lot and by value. In addition to setting a world record for any ruby sold at auction, the sale also became the most valuable private-owner collection of JAR jewels ever sold at auction.
“The additional support we receive this evening will help us to build and strengthen our professional skills programming, so that a child who leaves Agahozo-Shalom not only has a high school diploma but also a skill set relevant to the Rwandan job market.”
- Anne Heyman, Founder of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda
In September 2011, Christie’s joined together with actor, director and philanthropist Ben Stiller, and gallerist David Zwirner to organize an auction benefiting non-profits in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010. Artists for Haiti, a nonprofit organization, also participated in the much-needed humanitarian effort to raise funds for children’s education and health programs.
"We are so grateful to all of the artists who dedicated their time and talent to help raise an extraordinary amount of money that will be utilized as efficiently and quickly as possible to help the people of Haiti. Christie’s and David Zwirner Gallery worked very hard to make this a success and I am thankful to have them as partners in this effort.”
- Ben Stiller, Co-Founder, Artists for Haiti
Christie’s offered three paintings as Property Being Sold for the Benefit of Hackley School, Tarrytown, New York, Under a Bequest from the Estate of Ethel Strong Allen, including the star lot of the auction, Claude Monet’s Nymphéas, in our November 2012 Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale. All three paintings sold for a combined total of $50,871,500, making it one of the largest donations ever made to an independent school in New York state.
Founded in 1899, Hackley is a K-12 co-educational, college-preparatory day and five-day boarding school located in the Westchester County village of Tarrytown, just 30 minutes from NYC.
In June 2012, Christie’s offered a selection of works that were sold to benefit the Kunsthalle Zürich in Switzerland. Held in conjunction with our London Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, the auction was comprised of works donated by artists who had previously exhibited at the Kunsthalle Zürich.
Kunsthalle Zürich presents exhibitions, publications, workshops, symposia, and artist talks on art history, theory and practice.
The November 2009 sale of Property from the Collection of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Sold to Benefit the Merce Cunningham Trust, presented collectors with the opportunity to acquire significant works by the great Post-War masters Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Philip Guston. All six works achieved strong prices, achieving a collective total of $7.1 million. Two of the most important figures to emerge in the American Post-War era, Cunningham and Cage collaborated and forged friendships with some of the most influential artists of their generation.
Established by Cunningham in 2000, the Merce Cunninghan Trust serves as the custodian of the work of Merce Cunningham. Its mission is to preserve, enhance, and maintain the integrity of Cunningham’s choreographic and other artistic work, and make such works available for the benefit of the public.
In April 2006, Christie’s was chosen by the Estate of Donald Judd to offer a Selection of Works from the Judd Foundation.
The resulting press coverage and publicity was phenomenal, with The New York Times heralding the sale as “the most beautiful survey of Judd’s work ever seen in New York,” complimenting Christie’s on our museum-quality display. Christie’s received the International Art Critic Association’s prestigious award, ‘Best Show in Alternative Space,’ for the Judd Foundation preview in May 2006, the same month that the sculptures realized an incredible result of $29.9 million (against a pre-sale low estimate of $17.4 million) at auction.
“This exhibition is the most beautiful survey of Judd’s work ever seen in New York, and the first to be displayed under conditions of space and light that the famously demanding artist might have found satisfactory. Christie’s has made an unusual effort with the display… Christie’s has indeed behaved like a museum — or at least in a way more museums should act.
Asia Society honours Christie's with Philanthropic Leadership Award
Our Chairman Marc Porter accepted the Philanthropic Leadership Award on behalf of Christie’s at the Asia Society of Southern California Annual Gala for our work on the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection, which raised more than $835 million for charity.
The most exciting upcoming exhibitions and museum openings, from Francis Bacon in London to Sophie Taeuber-Arp in Basel
Curator Aric Chen selects highlights from Design Miami/ Podium: America(s), a thematic exhibition running alongside the tech enabled art air
In the run-up to 1-54 Online, Powered by Christie’s, leading curators, collectors and critics pick the names to look out for
Dina Nasser-Khadivi, Sunny Rahbar and Hans Ulrich Obrist discuss the Iranian artist’s pioneering practice
Christie's charity auctioneer reflects on commanding an audience, empowering women, and her book on finding success
From unsolved art crimes to rare archive recordings — Harry Seymour rounds up the pick of art-world listening from around the globe
The Los Angeles-based ceramic artist offers insights into the ideas behind her art, and her response to the imperial monochromes from the Alsdorf Collection
A series of exclusive Christies.com films in which artists invite us into their studios to discuss their work
In 2016 the photographer, who passed away recently, talked to Christie’s about studying for the priesthood, hanging out with Frank Sinatra, and his love of Leica
Christie’s has been a leader in working with museums and non-profit institutions for over three decades. Our experienced team partners with institutions large and small, including historical societies, libraries, universities and art museums. We are also committed to working with our institutional clients to cultivate their patrons through sponsorships, in-kind support, educational events and programming.
Explore our sponsorship highlights below.
Sponsorship of the opening celebration and scholarship around Gerhard Richter: Painting After All
4 March–5 July, 2020
Christie’s supported the opening reception, catalogue and education programs for the final exhibition to be held at the Met Breuer museum, a major exploration of the work of Gerhard Richter. The exhibition considers the artist’s six-decade-long preoccupation with the dual means of representation and abstraction to explore the material, conceptual and historical implications of painting.
Sponsorship of global donor programming for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Christie’s is proud to support an ongoing partnership with SFMOMA – one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the U.S. and a thriving cultural center for the Bay Area – for more than twenty years. The two organizations are deeply aligned in their efforts to engage existing, emerging and new art collectors and the current partnership prioritizes the shared goals of engaging current and future art collectors through an integrated travel partnership that is global in scope. Christie’s support helps fund innovative education and public programs that reach over 950,000 SFMOMA visitors annually.
The new SFMOMA, view from Yerba Buena Gardens; photo Jon McNeal, © Snohetta
Sponsorship of Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art
In the fall of 2021, Christie’s will support opening celebrations for a vast, unprecedented retrospective—simultaneously staged at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art—featuring a stunning array of the Jasper Johns’ most celebrated paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints as well as many lesser-known and recent works. With a body of work spanning seventy years, and a roster of iconic images that have imprinted themselves on the public’s consciousness, Johns at ninety is still creating extraordinary artworks. Each a self-contained exhibition, the two related halves mirror one another and provide rare insight into the working process of one of the greatest artists of our time.
Sponsorship of the opening celebration for Yoshitomo Nara at LACMA
In 2020, Christie’s will support the opening celebrations for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s retrospective of Yoshitomo Nara, one of the most beloved Japanese artists of his generation. His widely recognizable portraits of menacing figures reflect the artist’s raw encounters with his inner self. Spanning over 30 years from 1987 to today, the exhibition views the artist’s work through the lens of his longtime passion—music. Featuring album covers Nara began collecting as an adolescent, paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, an installation that recreates his drawing studio, and never-before-exhibited idea sketches that reflect the artist’s empathic eye, this exhibition shines a light on Nara’s conceptual process. One of the main highlights will be Miss Forest, a 26-foot outdoor painted bronze sculpture that will grace Wilshire Boulevard.
In the UK and Europe, Christie’s sponsors the following art institutions:
The National Gallery, London
Royal Academy of Arts
Victoria & Albert Museum
The Courtauld Gallery
The Nazi-era (1933-1945) saw the unprecedented and orchestrated spoliation of art in Europe. Its consequences continue to resonate strongly in today’s art world as seventy years on, unrestituted works of art continue to come to light, often when offered for sale.
With the benefit of experience and insight developed over more than a decade, Christie’s takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure that we do not knowingly sell spoliated but unrestituted art works. We are also committed to the ongoing research and identification of such objects, and in helping resolve restitution claims for works consigned for sale. In this, we are privileged to work as both part of the art world and as part of the restitution community.
Art is central to Christie’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program and it constitutes the prism through which we consider our activities vis-à-vis the workplace, community, and environment.
We believe in the power of art in society and we endeavour to use our position in the art market as a positive force. To that end, Christie’s strives to manage our people and practices responsibly in order to leave a positive, enduring impact on society, and to enhance the communities in which we live and work through cultural stewardship and arts advocacy.
As leaders in the Arts and Culture community, whether educating our clients on the art of collecting, leading art forum lecture programs or offering short courses on the art market, education is a core value and primary mission for Christie's. Christie’s Education is unique in being wholly owned by Christie’s auction house, signaling the importance Christie’s places on practical experience of art through education as the key to professional success. Since we were founded in 1978, Christie's Education graduates have gone on to careers in the art world having experienced the highest quality education in the fields of Art History, Art Business, Art World Practice, Connoisseurship and the art market from the inside.