Online and geographic expansion drive Christie’s record year


Le Printemps by Edouard Manet sold for $65 million

Christie’s record results for 2014 were enhanced by the auctioneer’s expansion into the Chinese and Indian markets and into ecommerce, according to Patricia Barbizet, chief executive officer, Christie’s.

“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,” she said.

“We continue to lead the art market by offering the broadest opportunity to collectors globally. The top end of the market grew during the year as evidenced by the 48% increase in works sold above $10 million. Our strategy to develop in new markets such as China and India and in new channels such as private sales and ecommerce, has further propelled the global growth of our business. Our focus remains on serving our clients whenever and however they choose to connect with art, through auctions, exhibitions or online.”


Expansion drives sales

Christie’s has announced record 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.

Sales figures were driven by an increase in activity across all geographies and strong sales of works of the highest quality, particularly in the Post-War & Contemporary Art, Impressionist & Modern Art and Jewellery departments.

Christie’s said that digital access and geographic development have encouraged a new audience to start collecting. Some 30% of all buyers were new to Christie’s in 2014 and a growing digital audience was echoed by a 39% increase in footfall to the Christie’s King Street headquarters in London.


Growth across all platforms

All sales platforms increased during 2014 with auction sales up 10% to £4.2 billion ($6.8 billion, up 15%), private sales totalling £916.1 million up 20% ($1.5 billion, up 26%) and eCommerce sales realising £21.4 million, up 54% ($35.1 million, up 60%).

Post-War and Contemporary Art had its best year ever with total sales of £1.7 billion ($2.8 billion) up 33% on 2013 (39% in $). This made a significant contribution to the results for 2014 and was led by Christie’s fall evening sale in New York, which realised $852.9 million, the highest total ever for an auction in the history of the art market.

The Impressionist and Modern Art department saw a 14% increase to £732.5 million ($1.2 billion up 19%) with strong sales across all locations highlighted by the sale of Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps (Springtime) for $65,125,000 to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.


Healthy auction sales

Auction sales continue to be the primary driver of activity with robust global growth of 10% year-on-year at £4.2 billion ($6.8 billion, up 15%). Christie’s sold 86 works of art for over $10 million each during 2014, up 48% and 870 lots were sold for over $1 million during the year, up 19%.

Private sales grew 20% totalling £916.1 million ($1.5 billion, up 26%). New exhibition spaces were opened in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai and a busy, creative schedule drew new clients to view well received shows including among others the Bad Shepherd in London’s Mayfair, The Year of the Horse shown in Hong Kong and Shanghai and works by Michele Oka Doner at Rockefeller Centre in New York.


Online success

Online-only sales totalled £21.4 million ($35.1 million, up 60%), a 54% increase, driven by the 78 ecommerce sales held across 21 different categories. Buyers on the online platform came from 69 countries with 32% new to Christie’s and 42% of new buyers under the age of 45. The highest price for a work of art in the live auction room via Christie’s LIVE™ was Tyeb Mehta’s (Untitled) Falling Bull which sold for $2.8 million in the India sale in December in Mumbai. Total sales for online buying via LIVE™ and eCommerce were $178 million.


Growth in India

Also in 2014, Christie’s opened a second office in India in New Delhi and the new Ampire Building on the Bund, Shanghai. While auction sales in Asia totalled £514.8 million, down 14% ($844.1 million, down 10%), 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.

Auction sales in the Americas and EMERI countries were all up on 2013 (Americas – £2 billion, up 11% / $3.3 billion, up 16% and EMERI – £1.6 billion, up 21% / $2.7 billion, up 26%). Clients in the Americas acquired 38% of sales, an increase in spending of 13% on 2013 and accounted for the largest volume of new buyers to Christie’s.  Buying from clients in EMERI countries represented 35% of total auction sales, with sales up in Europe by 20%.  New buyers from the Middle East increased by 23% from 2013.