Andy Warhol’s Triple Elvis [Ferus Type] on auction during Christie’s November Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York. Image courtesy of Christie’s
NEW YORK — From London to New York and Hong Kong, there is great celebration at Christie’s Auction. As the auction house looks forward to 2015, 2014 continues to be a great source of pride. Recently, the Auction House announced record auction results with art sales of £5.1 billion, up 12% ($8.4 billion, up 17%), for the year ending December 2014. This figure is the highest total for Christie’s or any art company in the history of the market. Putting it in perspective, this simple means Christie’s Auction House did better that all other auction houses including Sotheby’s, which also recorded an outstanding art auction result for 2014.
Christie’s success in 2014 was predicated on an increase in the activity of the auction house across all geographies and strong sales of works of the highest quality, particularly in the Post-War & Contemporary Art, Impressionist & Modern Art and Luxury goods and Jewellery. All categories and platform did remarkably well with auction sales up 10% to £4.2 billion ($6.8 billion, up 15%), Private Sales totaling £916.1 million up 20% ($1.5 billion, up 26%) and eCommerce sales realizing £21.4 million, up 54% ($35.1 million, up 60%). “Christie’s sales grew by 12% during 2014 and the team has succeeded by focusing on the art and connecting it to a growing global audience,” said Patricia Barbizet, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s.
The major contributor to Christie’s outstanding art sale in 2014 is the Post-War and Contemporary Art which had its best year ever with total sales of £1.7 billion ($2.8 billion) up 33% on 2013 (39% in $). This was led by the Christie’s Fall Evening sale in New York. The art auction realized $ 852.9 million, the highest total ever for an auction in history of the art market.
Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps (Springtime) which was sold for $65,125,000 to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles was the star of the Impressionist and Modern Art department which saw a 14% increase to £732.5 million ($1.2 billion up 19%) with strong sales across all locations.
Besides the Impressionist and Modern Art, the luxury goods, including Jewellery sales also made great impression in the 2014 auction season. The sale of luxury goods that included jewellery totaled £460.2 million ($754.7 million), making it a record year for this auction department. The sale marked a global year-on-year increase of 7% (11% in $), resulting in the 20th successive year of auction market leadership for luxury goods including jewellery sales.
The sale of a beautiful bronze sculpture by Adriaen de Vries to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam for $27,885,000 was a great boost for the Decorative Arts which rose by 9%, with the inaugural Exceptional Sale in New York in December that realized $41.3 million.
The achievement made by Christie’s Auction House in 2014 was done through the extension of its global reach, presenting outstanding artworks for sale, and establishment of innovative ways of connecting with collectors around the world. The primary robust global growth of 10% year-on-year at £4.2 billion ($6.8 billion, up 15%) was, however, driven by auction sales. In 2014, Christie’s sold 86 works of art for over $10 million each during 2014, an upward swing of 48% . 870 lots were also sold for over $1 million during the year, up 19%.
Beyond public auctions, Christie’s also made impact in the area of Private Sales which grew 20% totaling £916.1 million ($1.5 billion, up 26%).
To reach more collectors as well as present more works for viewing before auctions, Christie’s acquired new exhibition spaces in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The result of that investment has been tremendous. When sale exhibitions opened in these new venues, collectors and clients throng the space to be part of Christie’s busy and creative schedule. From the Bad Shepherd in London’s Mayfair, to The Year of the Horse in Hong Kong and Shanghai and exhibition of works by Michele Oka Doner at Rockefeller Centre in New York, collectors appreciated works in the most conducive atmosphere before putting in their bids.
Beyond the physical space, Christie’s also made great progress online. Attracting buyers from 69 countries with 32% new to Christie’s and 42% of new buyers under the age of 45, the online-only sales totaled £21.4 million ($35.1 million, up 60%), a 54% increase. With 21 different categories, buyers on the online platform were driven by 78 ecommerce sales. The highlight of the online-only sale was Tyeb Mehta’s (Untitled) Falling Bull which sold for $2.8 million in the India sale in December in Mumbai. With the sale, Mehta’s (Untitled) Falling Bull made record as the highest price for a work of art in the live auction room via Christie’s LIVETM. Total sales for online buying via LIVETM and ecommerce were $178 million.
Christie’s cumulative investments in Digital Access and Geographic Development Invites led to an increase in the number of new clients, many of who are young collectors. In 2014 30% of all buyers were new to Christie’s and there was also a 39% increase in the number of art buyers and collectors to Christie’s King Street headquarters in London.
Although art auction looked rosy in Asia at the beginning of 2014, it did not last long. Christie’s auction sale in Asia totaled £514.8 million, down 14% ($844.1 million, down 10%). In spite of the diminished expectation, however, Christie’s Auction House notes that 2014 saw an increase in spending globally across categories from Asian clients, up 18%, with growing activity in many sale categories. Asian clients accounted for 27% of all sales globally. With the opening of a second office in India in New Delhi and the stunning new Ampire Building on the Bund, Shanghai, there are great hopes for 2015.
Looking Ahead to 2015
With the success recoded in 2014, Christie’s enters 2015 on a very sound note. Already, Christie’s series of Old Master sales to be held in New York at the end of January are getting a lot of attention from art collectors around the world. To be led by a portrait by Caravaggio formerly from the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds and a masterpiece by Bronzino, there are high expectations that record auction prices will be achieved during the art sale that is expected to attract collectors from across the globe.
There is also heightened excitement in London as art collectors prepare for the Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in February. During that highly anticipated art auction, a remarkable Cézanne landscape from Samuel Courtauld’s personal collection will be offered alongside the most valuable grouping of Surrealist art to be offered at auction. In New York, the Ellsworth Collection, the largest private collection of Asian art ever to appear at auction, will also be offered in March.
1. Bible, Pentateque, en hébreu – Hamishah Humshe Torah, avec la paraphrase en Araméen (Targum Onkelos) et le commentaire par Rashi (Solomon Ben Isaac). Sold on 20 April 2014 during Importants Livres Anciens, Livres d’Artistes et Manuscrits, Paris. Price Realized: €2,785,500, £2,287,174.
2. Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, oil on canvas, in three parts, painted in 1984. Sold 13 May 2014 during Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York. Price Realized: $80,805,000, £47,674,950
3. The Winston Blue, a pear-shaped fancy vivid blue, flawless diamond of 13.22cts. Sold at May 14, 2014 during Magnificent Jewels, Geneva. Price Realized : SFr.21,455,000, $23,795,372
4. Édouard Manet, Le Printemps, oil on canvas, painted in 1881. World auction record for the artist. Sold November 5, 2014 during Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, New York. Price Realized: $65,125,000, £41,028,750
5. Black Beauty – A Martian Meteorite (NWA 7034), discovered in Morocco in 2011. Sold November 11-25 , 2014 during Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and other Rare Meteorites, Online-Only. Price Realized: $81,250, £53,634
6. Cy Twombly, Untitled, house paint and wax crayon on canvas, painted in 1970. World auction record for the artist. Sold November 12, 2014 during Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York. Price Realized: $69,605,000, £43,851,150
7. Andy Warhol, Triple Elvis [Ferus Type], silkscreen ink and silver paint on linen, painted in 1963. Sold November 12, 2014 during Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York. Price Realized : $81,925,000, £51,612,750
8. Thangka, A Highly Important Imperial Embroidered Silk (1402-1424). World auction record for any Chinese work of art sold by an international auction house. Sold November 26, 2014. A Highly Important Imperial Embroidered Silk Thangka, Hong Kong. Price Realized: HK$348,440,000, $45,157,824, £28,888,676
10. Adriaen De Vries, A Bronze Bacchic Figure Supporting The Globe, 1626. World auction record for the artist world auction record for any early European sculpture. Sold December 11, 2014 during The Exceptional Sale, New York. Price Realized: $27,885,000, £17,846,400