Christie's 2011 - Another Strong Year

Bloomberg just ran a good article on 2011 art sales at Chrisite's.  I briefly mentioned some primarily results in yesterdays post that sales for art was up, but the Bloomberg post gives some good details.

Overall art sales increased by 9% to $5.7 billion (a bit different than what I posted on yesterday and quoted in the WSJ).  The $5.7 billion breaks a record for Christie's art and collectible sales.  New clients attributed 12% of the sales, sales were down by 6% in New York (although still the largest by total), and up by 20% in London.  Hong Kong sales slowed by 11%. In 2010 Asian sales increased by 114% so that pace is realistically unsustainable.

Christie's sold 719 works for over $1 million, and interestingly enough only two of those large sales were made over the Internet.

Contemporary art sales increased by 22%, while Impressionist Modern sales fell by 28%, and the Asian art sector increased by 13% .  Private transactions increased by a very strong 44% at Christie's to $793 million which includes Christie's owned gallery sales.

Bloomberg reports on Christie's

Christie’s International (CHRS) said there was a surge in demand for contemporary art as an investment, after its sales climbed 9 percent in 2011.

The London-based auction house sold 3.6 billion pounds ($5.7 billion) of art and collectibles last year, a pound- sterling record for the company, it said in an e-mailed release sent last night. Contemporary works -- led by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko -- were the most lucrative category, contributing 735.7 million pounds at public sales, an increase of 22 percent.

Diminished returns from stocks and other financial investments have encouraged wealthy individuals to turn to art, particularly classic contemporary works, as an alternative asset class.

“Investors are entering the market and existing collectors are buying more,” Steven Murphy, Christie’s chief executive, said in an interview. “The ease with which information and images can be accessed through the Internet is also helping create a fundamental increase in demand.”

Equivalent auctions for Impressionist and modern pieces --a powerhouse of record results since the 1980s -- declined 28 percent to 548.6 million pounds, behind Asian art at 552.9 million pounds, which increased 13 percent in 2011.

This is only the second year that contemporary art has topped auctions at Christie’s. Catalogs featuring works by artists such as Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons generated a record 772 million pounds of sales in 2007.
Source: Bloomberg

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