Christie’s sales for the half year ending 30 June 2014 were £2.69 billion, up 12% ($4.47 billion, up 22%).
The auction house said its successful strategy to connect with more collectors globally underpins the results, with the figures driven by an increase in the value of artworks sold across categories, geographies and price levels.
Digital engagement and new buyers coming to the market have continued to drive growth; new clients represented 24% of all buyers and 15% of the sales total in the first half of 2014.
Steven Murphy, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Christie’s continued position of leadership is evidenced again in our half year results. Yet more important is that we are meeting our goal of serving more clients than any other art business globally and at all levels of collecting.
“Our strategy to engage this growing audience for art through auction, private sales and digitally has been validated and again welcomed many new buyers. We continue to lead the top levels of the art market, particularly in the Post-War & Contemporary Art area, while also successfully serving the broad variety of interests through all our categories and online sales.
“It is a new era of excitement and engagement about art and for art. By putting the art first, Christie’s has captured the imagination of our clients and served them in their quest to connect with the art itself.”
Art Sales Channels
Auction sales increased 13% on the same period last year to £2.2 billion ($3.6 billion, up 23%). Christie’s sold more works of art at the highest levels than any competitor with 51 works of art selling for over $10 million each during the first half of 2014 and 482 lots for over $1 million.
Private Sales grew 7% totalling £498.9 million ($828.2 million, up 16%) and Christie’s new exhibitions spaces have continued to welcome collectors and the public, with critically acclaimed exhibitions during the first half of the year including Polke/Richter-Richter/Polke and Turn Me On (European and Latin American Kinetic Art 1948-1979).
Online-only auctions continue to attract new buyers and sales of £8.7 million represent a 71% increase on the same period last year ($14.4 million, up 87%). Notably, 27% of buyers on the online platform were new, with visitors from over 170 countries.
The top price achieved in an online sale was $905,000 (£533,950) for a Richard Serra painting, Pamuk, offered during the May New York sales week of Post-War & Contemporary art in the new companion online sale.
The painting received bids from eight collectors and is the highest online-only sale price to date. A diamond ring, mounted by Van Cleef & Arpels, was the top lot sold via Christie’s LIVETM, achieving $2,792,863 (CHF2,517,000) in the May Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale.
Post-War & Contemporary Art had a record breaking six months with total sales of £799.9 million ($1.3 billion) up 20% on the same period in 2013 (30% in $). The May evening sale in New York realized $744.9 million, the highest sale total ever in the history of the art market.
The Impressionist & Modern Art department, which includes Modern British Art, realised sales of £565.9 million, up 37% on 2013 half year figures ($939.3 million, up 49%). Christie’s Luxury categories also sold well with Jewellery, Watches and Wine sales together totalling £274.4 million, up 11% ($455.5 million, up 20%), continuing the 20th successive year of auction market leadership in Jewellery.
There was a decrease of 22% on the same period last year for sales of Asian Art, which totalled £222.7 million ($369.6 million, down 15%). Other collecting categories that grew in the first half of 2014 were Old Masters, including 19th Century European paintings and Russian Art, which totalled £104.8 million, up 7% ($173.9 million, up 16%) and Arts of the Americas (American Art, Furniture & Works of Art and Latin American Art), which realised £61.1 million, up 7% ($101.5 million, up 16%).
Strong results were recorded by region with significant activity in the Americas, as New York sales were up 20% to £1.1 billion ($1.76 billion, up 31%). Sales in EMERI totalled £872 million, up 12% ($1.45 billion, up 22%). Asia sales declined on the same period to £254.7 million, a decrease of 8% ($422.8 million).
Sales to clients in Asia grew to 28% of overall activity, and 20% of all new clients to Christie’s were based in Asia. Buyers from Greater China accounted for 24% of total sales, a spend increase of 46% on first half 2014.
Key Developments I the first half 2014
There has been continued expansion and investment in exhibition spaces. The first six months of 2014 has seen the opening of two new spaces in China: the James Christie room at Alexandra House in Hong Kong and Christie’s first art space in Mainland China, The Imperial Club in Beijing. Christie’s Hong Kong and Beijing are now home to permanent exhibition spaces – after New York, London, Paris and Amsterdam – for uniquely curated exhibitions, lectures, art programs and Private Sales.
Christie’s launched the company’s first full retail model in the first six months with the Watch Shop; to date one third of clients (33%) are new clients to Christie’s, the average watch price is $10,218 whilst the highest price achieved is $58,000.
The Watch Store also featured exclusive content including ‘The Vault’ (watch news, interviews, and specialist analysis), ‘Deconstructed’ (which takes a closer look at specific models), and ‘Videos: Dialed In’ (which features Christie’s specialists guiding you through the collection). The Watch Shop is the most viewed sale, of any auction or online-sale to date in 2014. The market for Watches continues to grow and overall sales were up 10% for this category in first half 2014.
A re-launch of Christie’s iPad and iPhone app in April has seen many top lots viewed through the new app, with users coming from 149 countries. The first half of 2014 saw 2.3 million visits to christies.com from mobile devices, accounting for 20% of all website traffic.
Christie’s is expanding its footprint at its New York location in the landmark Rockefeller Plaza. The new galleries will open in November 2014 and will be largely dedicated to showing art for Private Sale. Designed by the architect Annabelle Selldorf, the new space is adjoined to the current galleries, and will boast an additional 11,000 square feet to accommodate five new private viewing rooms and additional exhibition space, with soaring ceilings up to 16 feet high.
In October, Christie’s will open its doors in the historic premises near the Bund in Shanghai. The grand opening at the Ampire Building will coincide with the Autumn sales which feature Asian and Western 20th Century & Contemporary Art, jewellery, watches and wine, and Chinese Contemporary Design, a new category featuring a dialogue between Tradition and Modernity, from furniture to ceramics and works of art, made by Chinese masters from the finest raw materials. These auctions will be followed by the Hong Kong sales season in November with a newly curated sale, Chinese Contemporary Ink, being introduced to the calendar.
Christie’s South Kensington salesroom continues to attract new collectors with 29% of buyers during first half of 2014 making their first saleroom purchase through the venue, either online or in person. The site will kick off the new season with the second annual Out of the Ordinary sale to be held on 3 September 2014 and will once again feature an eclectic selection of unusual items celebrating the joy of the unconventional.
To coincide with Frieze Art Fair (15-18 October), Christie’s will hold the evening sales of Post-War & Contemporary Art and The Italian Sale at King Street on 16 October, followed by the Day Sale on 17 October.
Christie’s Geneva saleroom follows a strong first half that saw the highest total ever for a jewellery auction and a new sale will be presented in November: Patek Philippe 175, a thematic evening auction on 9 November to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Patek Philippe. Fifty watches will be offered representing the company’s history, followed by a dedicated section of Patek Philippe watches in the day sale on 10 November.