Christie’s continues to lead the global art market
Sales in 2018 total £5.3 billion ($7 billion) — the highest ever in the history of the auction house
In 2018 Christie’s sales totalled £5.3 billion, an increase
of 3 per cent on 2017 ($7 billion, up 6 per cent) and were
led by the historic Rockefeller sale, the most significant
collection ever sold at auction.
Global auction sales rose 3 per cent to £4.7 billion ($6.3
billion, up 6 per cent) with sell through rates by lot increasing
to 82 per cent. Private sales realised £491.2 million, up 4 per cent ($653.3
million, up 7 per cent), while 88 online-only sales
totalled £65.1 million, up 16 per cent ($86.6 million, up
20 per cent).
Across the year, 32 per cent of all buyers were new to Christie’s with
spend by this group increasing by 20 per cent across regions
and price points. Online sales continued to contribute the
highest percentage of new buyers (41 per cent of new buyers
joined Christie’s via online sales, up from 37 per cent).
‘We remain confident of continued success in 2019, thanks to judicious planning and continued focus on curation, selection and pricing’ — Guillaume Cerutti
The top categories for attracting new buyers were Luxury sales
(32 per cent) and Post-War and Contemporary Art sales (16
per cent). The demand for works over £10 million continued
with 67 works sold at this level during the year, up from
65 in 2017.
‘It was a record-breaking year at Christie’s with several major
collections and continued demand across all categories,’
commented Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Cerutti. ‘While
signs of a more challenging macro-political and economic
environment increased towards the end of last year, we remain
confident of continued success in 2019, thanks to judicious
planning and continued focus on curation, selection and pricing.’
Sales in the Americas increased to £2.7 billion, up 9 per cent
($3.6 billion, up 12 per cent). In 2018, American buyers
accounted for 39 per cent of global spend, with 40 per cent
of new buyers to Christie’s coming from the United States.
The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller raised
a record $835,111,344 for a dozen philanthropies, a new record
for any private collection sale at auction. In addition, Christie’s Americas held record-breaking sales
from an unprecedented number of collections, including
selections from the
Barney A. Ebsworth Collection was led by masterpieces
by Edward Hopper ($91,875,000), Willem de Kooning ($68,937,500),
Jackson Pollock ($55,437,500), and Jasper Johns ($21,125,000).
The auction was the first of its importance to be recorded
on a blockchain registry, and complemented the success of
the American Art category at Christie’s in 2018.
In November, Christie’s sold
David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) for
$90,312,500, more than doubling the previous auction record
for a living artist.
A world record price for an Assyrian relief was set in October
in New York when the
gypsum relief of a Winged Genius made for the palace
of Ashurnasirpal II, circa 883-859 BC, realised
$30,968,750, the second highest price for any work of ancient
Sales in Asia totalled £613.1 million, up 5 per cent ($815.4
million, up 8 per cent) and Asian client spend accounted
for 25 per cent of total global sales. Of the total Asian client base spend, 57 per cent was outside the Asian
Art sales category.
The Spring sale highlights in Hong Kong included
Zao Wou-Ki’s 14.12.59, which sold for
more than double its estimate (HK$176,725,000), and an
extremely rare doucai and famille rose ‘Anbaxian’ vase, tianqiuping, which
In November, Wood and Rock by Su Shi (1037-1101) became the
most expensive object sold by Christie’s in Asia, when it
sold for HK$463,600,000.
Europe, The Middle East, Russia and India
Sales in Europe and the Middle East totalled £1.4 billion,
down 8 per cent ($1.9 billion, down 5 per cent), with clients
from Europe and the Middle East accounting for 36 per cent
of spend globally. Thirty-seven per cent of new buyers came
from the region, with new buyers to King Street in London up
28 per cent.
The London February
Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale achieved
the highest total for a sale in this category, realising
£20,636,938. The October Frieze Week sale series was led
Francis Bacon’s Figure in Movement (£19,921,250); the Modern British Art Evening Sale in November totalled
£17,875,750, and was led by
L. S. Lowry’s A Northern Race Meeting, realising
£5,296,250, more than three times the estimate; and to close the year Sir Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Princess Mary realised £5,858,750, while a pair of portraits by Frans Hals sold for £10,021,250 from The Collection of Eric Albada Jelgersma.
Paris held 40 sales with 17 world auction
records set during the year, and 27 per cent of clients registered
were new to Christie’s Paris in 2018. In Amsterdam Christie’s continues to lead with strong results for Post-War and Contemporary Art. The
November auction totalled €8,078,500 and included the curated
‘Cobra 70 Years’, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of
the European avant-garde group, selling 99 per cent by lot.
Christie’s celebrated its 50th anniversary in Switzerland
in 2018. The November Luxury sales in Geneva attracted
over 4,000 visitors, many of whom came to see
The Winston Pink Legacy, which sold for CHF50,375,000,
the top price achieved across all houses in Geneva. These
results secured Christie’s Jewellery department’s 25th year
as market leader.
Marking the 60th anniversary of Christie’s in Italy,
the annual Milan auction in April was 91
per cent sold by lot with
Achrome by Piero Manzoni selling for €2,970,000,
becoming the most expensive work of post-war art ever sold
at auction in Italy.
During the annual Dubai auctions in March a new auction record for a watch sold in the Middle East
was set by a
Patek Philippe reference 1518 made for King Farouk of Egypt,
achieving AED3,350,700. The London sale of Middle Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art
in October attracted registrants from 18 countries, demonstrating
the continued international appeal of art from the region.
Total sales of art online reached £188.3 million ($250.4 million)
in 2018, compared with £165.6 million ($214.5 million) the previous year. Online-only sales continue to be the number one recruiter
for new buyers to Christie’s (41 per cent). The value of
lots in online sales averaged $8,357 (up from $7,305 in 2017).
A third of the volume of lots from the Rockefeller Collection
were sold online, while more unusual objects sold online across the year included a
Matchless Canyon Diablo Meteorite, which achieved $237,500
in February, and a wheelchair that belonged to the late Stephen Hawking, which
realised £296,750 to benefit his Foundation and the Motor
Neurone Disease Association. Portrait of Edmond Belamy, created by GAN (Generative Adversarial Network), became
the first artificial intelligence artwork offered in a major
auction, and sold for $432,500.
Private sales realised £491.2 million, up 4 per cent ($653.3
million, up 7 per cent). In Paris there was an impressive
selection of objects sold to institutions and museums, including
a 1776 commode by Jean-Henri Riesener acquired for Versailles.
In Asia, private selling exhibitions included 60 artworks, from Chinese furniture to contemporary ink paintings, being shown in Beijing; Hong Kong hosted The Michael Lau exhibition, and
the third edition of
Loaded Brush, which was held alongside a loan exhibition of works
by Vincent van Gogh, the first solo exhibition of his work
Other exhibitions held around the world included
Making and Collecting Art in Germany in Berlin
in April, and
Sacred Noise, a collaboration between the Old
Master and Post-War teams in London.