While auction records have continued to be broken in the first half of 2015, Christie’s half year results, released last week, may suggest that the growth rate of the art market is slowing.
Christie’s reported record half year sales of £2.9 billion, up 8% ($4.5 billion, up 0%) on the same period for 2014. Last year, however, Christie’s half year results were up 12% on 2013.
Christie’s was upbeat about the results, saying it has focused on curatorial innovation and a revised sales calendar to attract collectors at all levels across all geographies, and continues to invest in online platforms as well as traditional salerooms and private sales.
New clients represented 24% of buyers. The number of middle market buyers grew by 14% and further reflects the continued commitment of Christie’s to offering art and objects across a broad spectrum of collecting areas and price points.
Patricia Barbizet, Christie’s chief executive officer, said: “This season, using thoughtful curatorial innovation, we have worked with our clients to explore different genres, geographies and eras of creativity as the boundaries of their taste and interests expand.
“During the first half of 2015 Christie’s clients spanned 99 countries, demonstrating how truly international sales activity is at all levels and reflecting the expanse of the art market. We are meeting new demands while continuing to show strength in core categories and maintaining market share.
“Buyer activity of lots between £100,000 and £1,000,000 continues to grow, with the number of buyers up 14%. Our early investment in online and E-commerce platforms continues to add value across the business. We look forward to more innovative collaboration across categories and regions during the second half and remain fluid as we challenge traditional models of auction for new models of selling art.”
Sotheby’s second quarter results will be released on Friday.