Christie’s today announces total global sales of £5.1 billion ($6.6 billion) in 2017, up 26 per cent (by £) for the same period in 2016. Leading the year was the record-breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450.3 million (£342.2 million, with buyer’s premium) in November in New York.
Overall, growth was driven by global auction sales, which increased 38 per cent to £4.6 billion ($5.9 billion). Online sales climbed 12 per cent to £55.9 million ($72.4 million), reflecting clients’ continued strong interest in this platform.
Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer, described 2017 as ‘a year to remember’, both for its record growth of 26 per cent and for unforgettable moments such as the sale of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, and also because of ‘decisive action’ taken to prepare for the future. ‘In 2018, we will focus on continuing to expand our global client base and improving services to our customers, especially online,’ he stated.
Regionally in 2017, sales in the Americas increased to £2.5 billion, up 68 per cent ($3.2 billion); sales in Asia totalled £582.9 million, up 11 per cent ($754.9 million); and sales in Europe and the Middle East totalled £1.5 billion, up 16 per cent ($2 billion).
New buyers accounted for 31 per cent of all buyers, with new buyer spend increasing by 26 per cent. At masterpiece level, new buyers over £1 million increased by 40 per cent, with the number of works sold over £10 million rising from 26 in 2016 to 65 in 2017.
Asia: Growth continues
In 2017, continued growth was seen in the Asia client base, with buying from the region increasing 39 per cent to represent 31 per cent of global spend. Asian client spend for works over £1 million grew 63 per cent year on year. In both online and live auctions, 52 per cent of Asian clients purchased outside the Asian Art categories. The percentage of Asian buyers in online sales rose by 23 per cent, driven by sales of Asian Art and Luxury goods.
During our Hong Kong sale season in November, which totalled HK$3.43 billion, Zao Wou-Ki’s 29.01.64 sold for HK$202,600,000, a world auction record price for an oil painting by any Asian artist.
Americas: Ongoing success in New York and expansion in Los Angeles
In New York, the world record sale of Salvator Mundi contributed to an overall 68 per cent increase in auction sales. Additional successes included the record-breaking sale of the Fujita Museum Collection in March, which totalled $262.8 million (£215.3 million), the highest single-owner collection result of the year.
Other major highlights were Constantin Brancusi’s La muse endormie ($57,367,500, a world auction record for the artist), Vincent van Gogh’s Laboureur dans un champ ($81,312,500) and Fernand Léger’s Contraste de formes ($70,062,500, a world auction record for the artist). Overall, American buyers accounted for 32 per cent of global spend, a 22 per cent increase from 2016 levels. Also in 2017, Christie’s opened a new flagship space in Los Angeles.
European and Middle Eastern clients spent 52 per cent more at auction at Christie’s than in 2016, representing 37 per cent of global client spend. London King Street auction sales were up 23 per cent, with a 33 per cent increase in new buyers from 2016.
Highlights included the record-breaking sale of Max Beckmann’s Hölle der Vögel (Birds’ Hell), which sold for £36,005,000 in June, and the October sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Red Skull (1982), which achieved £16,546,250. Also in October, the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale achieved £134,076,500, the highest figure for an evening sale in the category in Europe.
Auction sales in Paris increased by 49 per cent, led by a series of significant private collections. During FIAC week in October, Alberto Giacometti’s Grand Femme II realised €24,907,500 in the Avant-Garde sale, becoming the most expensive work of art sold in France in 2017. The sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Jim Crow closed out FIAC week, realising €15,007,500. In Geneva, sales in November totalled CHF144,007,100. The Art of de Grisogono, the largest flawless D-colour diamond ever to come to auction, set a world auction record when it sold for CHF33,500,000.
Christie’s leads all key categories
In 2017, sales of Impressionist and Modern Art (including Modern British Art, American Paintings, and Latin American Paintings) increased 60 per cent to £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion). Six world auction records were achieved in New York’s November Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale; in all, the sale totalled $479,320,250, a 95 per cent increase over the November 2016 evening sale.
The Post-War & Contemporary Art department realised total sales of £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion), up 25 per cent from 2016. Highlights included Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer ($51,767,500), Cy Twombly’s Leda and the Swan ($52,887,500) and Andy Warhol’s Sixty Last Suppers ($60,875,000).
Global Asian Art sales increased 50 per cent to £704.6 million ($912.4 million), highlighted by a magnificent pair of famille rose ‘butterfly’ vases sold for £14,725,000 in London in May.
Old Master Paintings, 19th Century and Russian Art sales totalled £547.6 million ($709.2 million), up 137 per cent, with highlights including Francesco Guardi’s The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo Dei Camerlenghi, which realised £26,205,000 in London’s July Classic Week. Luxury sales (including Jewellery, Watches, Wine and Handbags) totalled £530 million ($686.3 million), down 5 per cent. Among the top luxury lots of 2017 was Le Grand Mazarin, an historic light pink diamond of 19.07 carats, which sold for CHF14,375,000 in Geneva in November.
Digital innovation and engagement
Total online art sales reached £165.6 million ($214.5 million) in 2017, against £161 million ($217 million) in 2016. Online-only sales achieved £55.9 million, an increase of 12 per cent ($72.5 million) from last year, with Christie’s online platform remaining the largest entry point for new buyers (37 per cent). Online bidding in auction sales via Christie’s LIVE™ and online absentee bidding accounted for £109.7 million ($144.5 million).
Some 12 million unique visitors came to Christie’s website and app, driven by the more than 800 stories and compelling social posts generated by the editorial team. Continued investment in Instagram led to a 200 per cent rise in engagement, while Facebook Likes were up 29 per cent, bolstered by an enhanced programme of Facebook Live streams. Our live-stream of the sale of Salvator Mundi reached more than 470,000 people.