Christie's sells $ 7.1 billion in art, highest in five years

Christie’s sells $ 7.1 billion in art, highest in five years
Christie’s sells $ 7.1 billion in art, highest in five years

Christie's International said on Monday it had sold $ 7.1 billion worth of works of art this year, the highest annual total in the past five years amid a boom in the industry which saw prices soar. arrow for longtime favorites such as Pablo Picasso as well as newcomers to the NFT like Beeple.

The smaller house Phillips also said it had the best business result with $ 1.2 billion in revenue, led by feverish auctions for contemporary stars such as Shara Hughes and Ewa Juszkiewicz.

The auction houses announced their profits days after Sotheby's announced it had sold $ 7.3 billion for the year, a new record in itself.

With the three biggest auction houses in the world having strong sales, collectors report they are excited to buy art in a range of categories and prices, from ancient Egyptian falcon sculptures to medieval manuscripts and vintage pinball machines. The rebound could convince sellers to put even more coins into play next year, especially if the broader financial markets continue to show signs of volatility and inflation pushes the prices of other goods up, said Monday the general manager of Christie's, Guillaume Cerutti.

Christie's sold an ancient Egyptian falcon sculpture for $ 4.8 million.


"Our clients are not indifferent to the larger economic context, but they are driven by passion and they now know that we can operate well under uncertainty," said Mr. Cerutti. "Higher inflation also helps us because it makes people want things like art that won't lose value. It makes our market resilient.

Christie's total for 2021 represents a 54% increase from the previous year and a 22% increase from 2019, which was just before the entire art market pivoted online at the middle of the pandemic. The total breaks down to $ 5.4 billion in auctions and $ 1.7 billion in art sales through a private broker. These private sales represented a 12% increase from the previous year and a 108% jump from 2019.

Phillips, for his part, said his overall sales for the year were up 63% from 2020, with $ 993 million in auctions and $ 208 million in private art sales. .

Homes have all attributed the market upturn in part to the arrival of millennial collectors who showed up during the pandemic eager to splurge. Christie's said 35% of its bidders this year were new to the business, and one-third of those newcomers were millennials.

Historically, the high end of the art market has only been led by a few hundred collectors, so market watchers are closely monitoring the impact that thousands of newcomers will have on tastes and levels of art. price in general. Christie's said more than a million people logged on to nine social media platforms to watch some of its fall live sales in November in New York City.

Phillips said about 44,000 people have created online accounts with him this year, a large influx, although some have only signed up to watch live auctions or follow NFT declines. Stephen Brooks, chief executive of Phillips, said the new bidders helped the house sell 91% of its bids overall, a rare sell rate. Christie's overall sales rate was 87%.

Christie’s sells $ 7.1 billion in art, highest in five years

Phillips sold Georgia O'Keeffe's 'Crab's Claw Ginger Hawaii' for $ 7.7 million.


At the top, Christie's won the bragging rights of having sold the most expensive piece of the year, "Woman Seated Near a Window (Marie-Thérèse) by Pablo Picasso for $ 103.4 million". The 1932 portrait of the artist's mistress nearly doubled its estimate of $ 55 million after a still-unnamed collector won a 19-minute bidding war in May.

Dealers said the work soared because it had all the hallmarks of an art trophy, with a renowned artist painting his most famous mistress in rainbow hues over the course of 'a year considered key for him, 1932.

The house also sold Jean-Michel Basquiat, co-founder of Valentino, Giancarlo Giammetti, for $ 93.1 million, "In This Case" in November. And in a revolutionary move, Christie's ushered in the global craze for non-fungible tokens by selling Beeple's digital collage as NFT, "Everydays: The First 5000 Days," for $ 69.3 million in March.

Since then, the house has said it has sold NFT for $ 150 million, or about 8% of its global contemporary art sales. Phillips said he sold all of the NFTs on offer, including Mad Dog Jones' $ 4.1 million NFT "Replicator".

Strong competition from young Asian buyers also made a difference, the homes said. Christie's said it sold $ 500 million of art in Asia, up 56% from the previous year, and it plans to start selling direct from its space in Shanghai in March.

Christie’s sells $ 7.1 billion in art, highest in five years

Pieces by contemporary designer François-Xavier Lalanne have sold well this year.


At Phillips, half of his top 10 pieces also went to collectors in Asia, including the Long Museum in Shanghai which won $ 7.7 million Georgia O'Keeffe, "Crab's Claw Ginger Hawaii". The house said its sales of $ 270 million in Hong Kong had doubled its total from the previous year.

Design sales were also strong this year, driven by collectors confined to the house for months. Even colonial antiques, such as the richly carved brown highboys, which were once considered old-fashioned have sold well, the homes said. François-Xavier Lalanne, a contemporary designer known for creating a menagerie of metal pieces, is also doing well. Christie's sold its 2001 Golden Elephant Table for triple its high estimate of $ 6.6 million. Cécile Verdier, president of Christie's France, said 16% of her design sales go to millennials.

"Design is very close to art and it's a fantastic way to attract new buyers," said Ms. Verdier.

The art market will be put to the test again on January 27 when Sotheby's New York tries to sell Sandro Botticelli's portrait of Christ, "Man of Sorrows", for an estimated amount of $ 40 million.

Write to Kelly Crow at

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