Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, today announces 2015 sales of £4.8 billion ($7.4 billion), down 5 per cent (by £)* for the same period in 2014. The results are the second highest total in company history.
Demand from global buyers remained consistent at both the highest end of the market as well as in a diverse range of collecting areas and price levels. Notable successes included the record-making sale in New York in November of Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché for $170.4 million and the highest day-sale totals seen during our corresponding 20th Century Sale week, reflecting continued strength in this core area of the art market.
‘We are in a strong position to adapt to the marketplace and well-equipped to service the new, broader, geographically diverse audience for art’ — Patricia Barbizet, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer
‘Last year saw continued strength in the art market and showed that there is breadth of demand across geographies, categories and price ranges,’ commented Patricia Barbizet, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer. ‘Amidst an increasingly challenging global financial environment we are in a strong position to adapt to the marketplace and well-equipped to service the new, broader, geographically diverse audience for art.
‘Our strong overall sold percentages demonstrated how we have achieved great results for our clients and we will remain focused on service, bringing the best art to collectors around the world,’ Barbizet continued.
‘It is also encouraging that new buyers represent 30 per cent of our total buyer base, coming to us through our curated auctions, various categories as well as digital sales. As we begin our 250th year, Christie’s will continue to celebrate its heritage and, with innovation and expertise at the heart of our business, continue to lead the industry.’
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Nu couché, 1917-18. Oil on canvas. Sold for £113,000,663 / $170,405,000 on 9 November 2015
The Sweet Josephine — a cushion-shaped fancy vivid pink VVS2 diamond of 16.08 carats. Price realised: SFr.28,725,000 / $28,523,925. 10 November 2015, Magnificent Jewels, Geneva. World auction price for a cushion-cut Fancy Vivid Pink diamond sold at auction
The Impressionist and Modern Art category (including Modern British Art, American Paintings, and Latin American Paintings) grew by 57 per cent to £1.3bn ($2bn, up 47 per cent) compared with the same period for 2014, continuing the team’s market leadership. The Post-War & Contemporary department also continued to be market leaders with total sales of £1.5 billion, down 14 per cent ($2.2 billion, down 20 per cent). Sales of Asian Art increased 9 per cent globally to £478.6 million ($734.2 million, up 2 per cent), highlighted by the record-breaking sales of the Collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth. Sales in the 20th and 21st-Century Culture category increased 9 per cent to £93.7 million ($143.7 million, up 2 per cent). Old Master Paintings, 19th Century and Russian Art sales totalled £154.9 million, down 37 per cent ($237.6 million, down 41 per cent). Luxury (including Jewellery, Watches and Wine) sales totalled £493.4 million, down 13 per cent ($756.9 million, down 19 per cent). This category proved to be the most successful entry point, attracting 21 per cent of all new buyers, and maintaining its position as market leaders.
A pair of English black leather running shoes worn by Sir Roger Bannister CBE, 1954, by G.T. Law and Son. Price realised: £266,500 / $409,344. 10 September 2015, Out of the Ordinary, London, South Kensington
A Yongzheng fine and important Falangcai sepia-enamelled ‘Prunus and Bamboo’ bowl, 1723-1735. Price realised: HK$85,240,000 / $11,050,176. 2 December 2015, Chinese Works of Art, Hong Kong
Percentage of total sales by region for 2015
Sales in the Americas increased 19 per cent to £2.4 billion ($3.6 billion, up 11 per cent), with key sales including the Collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, achieving $134 million, and innovative curated sales, Looking Forward to the Past and the Artist’s Muse, achieving $705.8 million and $491.4 million respectively. Strength of demand for masterpieces complemented interest in broad areas of collecting and price points as Christie’s sold the top three works at auction of 2015. Innovation continued through the launch of new sales weeks, with a focus on cross-category curation.
Sales remained strong across European salerooms, with a 15 per cent increase in Paris sales to £159.5 million, ($244.7 million, up 8 per cent), in part due to the Exceptional Works on Paper sale from the Triton Collection Foundation in March, which beat its high sale estimate, realising €9.7 million.
Overall spend from Asian buyers, including China, increased by 15 per cent, with contribution to global sales increasing to 30 per cent in 2015
Overall sales in the EMERI (Europe, Middle East, Russia and India) region totalled £1.4 billion, down 18 per cent ($2.1 billion, down 23 per cent). The business saw growth in India, following the first Christie’s auction in Mumbai in 2013, with 2015 sales of £10 million, up 32 per cent,($15.3 million, up 23 per cent).
Sales for Asia increased 2 per cent to £525.6 million ($806.2 million, down 4 per cent) with several sales beating their high estimates including The Feng Wen Tang Collection of Chinese paintings in Hong Kong which more than tripled its high sale estimate. Reaching its 30th anniversary this year, Hong Kong saw a 5 per cent increase in sales.
Christie’s continued to attract new collectors in China, with a 5 per cent increase in buyers. Sales in Shanghai of Asian and Western 20th Century in April and our new +86 sale in October both sold above high estimate.
Overall spend from Asian buyers, including China, increased by 15 per cent, with contribution to global sales increasing to 30 per cent in 2015. Asian buyers increased by 7 per cent, making up 18 per cent of global buyers across Christie’s. Japan and Singapore also attracted significant numbers of buyers, increasing 12 per cent and 14 per cent respectively from 2014.
Buyers in 2015 new to Christie’s
Digital Sales continue to prove an effective way to connect with buyers across multiple geographies and categories. Overall, digital buyer numbers are up 10 per cent, with sold value in Digital Sales up 11 per cent. Digital Sales are a gateway for new buyers to Christie’s, and 20 per cent of new buyers participated through this channel.
Digital successes include the Ellsworth Collection (sold 435 per cent by value), the Property of Mrs. Thatcher (sold 714 per cent by value) and the Picasso Ceramics Sale (sold 257 per cent by value), as well as the introduction of new online categories.
In Asia, digital buyers increased 12 per cent from 2014, with buyer spend up 34 per cent, largely driven by the success of the online Ellsworth Collection. In the Americas, client spend in Digital Sales rose by 13 per cent, the second highest rise after Asia.
Eighty-three per cent of visitors to Christies.com were new, with 27 per cent more mobile visitors than in 2014. Christie’s LIVE, the platform that allows clients to bid in live auction via their desktop computers, also continues to gain traction. Andy Warhol’s Flowers achieved $1.3 million and was purchased via Christie’s LIVE and A Diamond Ring achieved $3.4 million, making it the second highest value lot ever sold via LIVE.
The public auction market was strong in 2015, with £4.3 billion, up 2 per cent ($6.5 billion, down 4 per cent). Meanwhile, the total figure for Private Sales was down 39 per cent to £554.9 million ($851 .2 million, down 43 per cent), principally because of vendors’ decisions to sell works through the public market.
Looking ahead to 2016
2006-2015 Christie’s total sales. 2015 is the second highest auction total.
This year marks Christie’s 250th anniversary and will be celebrated with a series of events and exhibitions. The new sales calendar in 2016 will begin with 20th Century at Christie’s, a series of sales from 2–12 February in London, led by a self-portrait by Egon Schiele (estimate: £6-8 million) and Francis Bacon’s Two Figures (estimate: £5-7 million).
As a further step in its sales innovation strategy, Christie’s will hold a new themed week of sales, Classic Art Week, in New York in April. This week of sales will include Old Master Paintings, Japanese & Korean art, Sculpture, Antiquities, and Christie’s signature Exceptional Sale of Decorative Arts.
A new curated sale, Revolution, will be the centrepiece of this auction series, and will feature masterworks from the 18th to the 20th centuries, including paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculpture, which will explore the radical social, political and artistic changes that defined this period of history.
The 10th year of Christie’s in Dubai will be celebrated this March and in May, Hong Kong will mark its 30th year. To mark Christie’s 250th year, Christie’s Education will hold a conference entitled Creating Markets and Collecting Art to be held in London 14-15 July.
*In accordance with standard accountancy practice, Christie’s uses a sales weighted average to account for exhcnage rate fluctuations. During 2015 all cumulative sales figures are reported in £ and US$, using a sales weighted average (SWA) of 1:1.534
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