RESULTS | Christie's 20th Century Week Series | New York | May 2016


New York

  • Deep bidding and excellent sell-through rates driven by tightly-edited sales, innovation and client focus
  • 20 New World Auction Records
  • Evening sales buoyed by new collectors, asian and american buying strength
  • Participation From 50 countries across the series

New York – Christie’s 20th Century Week in New York ended with a strong finish, achieving $656,201,500 (£456,026,198 / €576,377,849) and confirming Christie’s market leadership of the major spring auctions. The total includes Christie’s Evening, Day, and Works on Paper sales in Impressionist, Modern, Post-war and Contemporary art, as well as the curated capsule sale Bound To Fail and a companion online-only sale of contemporary art. The robust tally for the series is indicative of thriving demand from Christie’s broad geographically-diverse client base. Strong sell-through rates were consistent throughout the sales, with an average of 90% across the three major Evening Sales. Friday morning’s Works on Paper sale was 93% sold by lot and 92% sold by value – the most successful result for the category in recent years.

Collector demand at the top end of the market was underscored by record prices across the week, and successful results for each of the top three lots in each Evening Sale. In total, 20 artist records were achieved for a varied selection of modern and contemporary artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo, Richard Prince, Agnes Martin, Mike Kelley, Kerry James Marshall and Maurizio Cattelan, among others. There was also significant demand for work by artists in mediums other than painting, including record prices for a video work by Bruce Nauman, a work on paper by Amedeo Modigliani, and a sculpture by Richard Prince.

Christie’s saw ample bidding and buying throughout the series from American and European buyers, and significant participation from Asian bidders across both sale categories. Most notable was Japanese collector Mr. Yusaku Maezawa, who acquired five contemporary works at Christie’s for a total of $81.3 million, and became the winning bidder of the week’s top lot, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled, and set a new auction record for Richard Prince with his purchase of Runaway Nurse for $9.7 million. Mr. Maezawa, founder of the Contemporary Art Foundation, will exhibit Basquiat’s 16-foot wide tour-de-force to the public at the Foundation’s site in Tokyo in the near future.

Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President of Christie’s, comments Success in this current market requires adaptability, innovation and client focus. These are the elements that defined our sales strategy this season, and we were able to navigate a tougher macro-economic climate effectively, delivering very strong results for our consignors. In constructing each of this week’s auctions, we carefully considered the collecting tastes of our clients while ensuring that we were continuing to push boundaries. The enthusiasm with which these sales were received was an energizing message of confidence for the marketplace. The success of this week is a tribute to the leadership and strength of Christie’s innovative, market-leading team. We now look forward to carrying this creativity and dedication on to our marquee spring auctions in Hong Kong and London.”

20th Century Week by Numbers


  • $657,754,563 realized
  • 771 works sold
  • 50 countries represented by registered bidders
  • 20 world auction artist records
  • 121 lots sold over $ 1 million USD
  • 2 companion online-only sales continuing

Looking Forward

Christie’s companion online-only auctions continue into next week with Picasso Ceramics and Art as Jewellery. To browse and bid, please visit

In 2016, Christie’s will celebrate its 250th anniversary as a company in London and its 30th anniversary of operations in Hong Kong with two curated evening sales that explore the artistic legacy of their respective regions.

Defining British Art: The Evening Sale will take place June 30 at Christie’s King Street

30 Years: The Sale will take place May 30 at Christie’s Hong Kong

For details, visit


About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.