Demand among wealthy art lovers for high-value lots, including work by Constantin Brancusi and Max Beckmann, and record spending from Asian buyers boosted Christie’s auction house in the first half of the year.
The number of artworks sold for more than £10m rose to 38 in the first six months of 2017, from 14 in the same period last year.
Sales included the the Fujita collection in New York, the Givenchy collection in Paris, and the Lambrecht and De Balkany collections in London.
Christie’s holds about 350 auctions a year, selling a range of luxury goods including fine art, handbags, jewellery and wine. Prices range from $200 to more than $100m, and in Hong Kong in May it sold a white crocodile skin Hermès Birkin handbag encrusted with 10.23 carats of diamonds for a record-breaking HK$2.9m (£293,000).online and private sales totalled £2.35bn, up by 14% compared with
In the first half of 2017 sales from auctions, the same period a year earlier and boosted partly by growing demand from Asian clients.
The chief executive of Christie’s, Guillaume Cerutti, said: “Christie’s continues to lead the auction market, characterised in the first half by increasing global demand and a stronger supply than 2016. With 35% of global spend, activity from Asian buyers has reached a new high, demonstrating Christie’s strength in this part of the world.”
Spending grew across all regions, with American-based clients accounting for 35% of sales value, and those from Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India for 30%.
“We are encouraged by these results, and continue to adapt our operations to this new international context,” Cerutti said. “We look forward to a strong second half of 2017 and beyond, with preparations beginning for the Rockefeller sale in the spring of 2018.”
The sale of Audrey Hepburn’s personal collection promises to be a highlight in the second half of the year. It will run at Christie’s King Street headquarters in London and online on 27 September, and will feature Hepburn’s personal wardrobe and her own annotated working copies of film scripts including Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
In New York, the auction house has been instructed to sell the estate of David Rockefeller in 2018, which is estimated to include more than 2,000 items. The personal collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller will feature impressionist, post-impressionist and modern works of art, American, English and European furniture, and Chinese export porcelain as well as other items. A series of sales will be held in the spring at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center.
The auction house attracted new buyers in greater numbers in the first half, with a quarter of all buyers new to Christie’s. The amount spent by new buyers rose by 42%.
Christie’s announced earlier this year that it was planning to close its South Kensington branch, where it has traditionally sold lower-price artwork and furniture. It said it would focus instead on one London salesroom in King Street.
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