Art business and a fine arts auction house Christie’s on Sunday announced 2011 sales of $5.7 billion, up by 14 compared with 2010 (figures include buyer’s premium). This includes private sales of $808.6 million, an increase of 50% on 2010.
“Christie’s ability to curate and offer sales of art to a growing audience has led to continued demand across geographies, collecting categories and at all levels. This is a very encouraging set of results”, said Steven P. Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s, in a press release.
“While we are seeing more investors collecting, there are many more collectors who are increasing their investment in their collections as the explosion of interest in art, fuelled by globalization, facilitated by the technology that increases access to information and images, meets the art that is coming to the market.” Post-War and Contemporary led the art categories with auction sales of $1.2 billion – an increase of 27%.
The second strongest category was Asian Art which increased 15% and totaled record annual sales of $890.1 million.
The highest price of the year was paid for Roy Lichtenstein’s (1923-1997), I Can See the Whole Room!…and There’s Nobody in it!, 1961, on 8 November in New York for $43,202,500 / $26,785,550, a world record price for the artist at auction.
In 2011, Christie’s sold 719 works at auction for over $1 million (607 in 2010).
Average sold rates (by lot) stayed at 79%, on a par with the previous year. Results also illustrate solid demand at every price level, not just for the most expensive works, with the highest selling rate for works sold between $250,000 and $1 million at 87%.
The market at the lower price levels also performed strongly with Christie’s in South Kensington saleroom, offering works of art from $1,000, recording its highest annual total for the second successive year $186.6 million.
The international appetite for collecting is also reflected in increased buyer activity in 2011. US and European clients accounted for 77% of registered bidders, with 14% of clients registering from Greater China, an increase of 2% on 2010. Registered clients from Russia and the CIS increased 15% over the year. New clients represented 12% of the value of global sales.
Christie’s continue to invest in online initiatives making the art market increasingly accessible. In 2011, online continued to attract new clients and prompt greater interactive engagement. The website welcomed 77% more unique visitors than the previous year. In total 29% of Christie’s bidders transacted online (not including the online-only auction of the Elizabeth Taylor Collection), according to the auction house’s press release.