The Strategist

Christie's sales fell by 28%

07/25/2016 - 18:49

In the first half of this year, Christie's sales of art pieces have fallen by 28% against the panic that has gripped financial markets and uncertainties after the UK referendum.

Flickr: Christies
Flickr: Christies
Sales of the world's largest broker of art Christie's accounted for 2.9 billion in the previous year. This year, however, brought a fall to 2.1 billion pounds. One of the most expensive paintings for the company’s entire period of activity - a picture by Jean-Michel Basquiat - was sold for $ 57.3 million in May. At the same time, in May 2015 Christie's sold "Les Femmes d'Alger" by Pablo Picasso for $ 179.4 million, and a bronze statue of Alberto Giacometti for $ 141.3 million.

Only 29 lots, which value exceeded 5 million pounds sterling, were sold for the first six months of 2016. To compare, the art broker managed to sell 47 such lots during the same period last year.

"In the first half of 2016, there was almost no masterpieces worth over 20 million pounds at the auction", - said Stephen Brooks, the company’s Deputy Executive.

Sales in the segment of post-war and contemporary art, numbered 547 million pounds this year, fell by 41% compared with a year earlier. Sales of Impressionist paintings and contemporary art, including modern British art, paintings of American and Latin American artists, have made 412.8 million pounds.

"Despite the decline in sales volumes, yet there is a reason for joy" - Brooks said, pointing to the strong growth of online sales, continued involvement of international collectors and high level of sales at many auctions.

Online sales almost doubled to 19.4 million pounds. The company noted growth in the number of customers by 36%, we are talking about a category of buyers, who purchase paintings for the sum of £ 1 million to 5 million pounds. Brooks describes this segment as a "major market".

Luxury sales, including jewelry sales, increased by 16% to 286.4 million pounds. The most expensive lot for the entire period was a blue diamond Oppenheimer, 14.62 carats. It went for $ 57.5 million in Geneva.

Christie has experienced a rather bumpy season that fluctuated between record highs and lows. Volume of sales of impressionist and modern art at the auction house in London on June 22, on the eve of the historic Brexit vote, totaled 25.6 million pounds. This is the lowest rate of evening trading for the past ten years.

The following week, Asian collectors located in the US took advantage of the pound’s sharp fall. A monumental bronze by Henry Moore was sold for 24.7 million pounds. This was an auction record for the British sculptor and the top lot at a special auction on the company’s 250th anniversary.

The art broker does not report on its income. Sotheby, which next month will report on the second quarter, said that total volume of auction sales for the half year amounted to $ 2.4 billion.