Second Best Total in the Last 6 Years
Key take-aways from H1 2021:
- Total sales for H1 2021 higher than H1 2019 pre-pandemic total (+13%) Significant growth in online and in private sales
- Record sell-through rate of 87% across all auctions
- 7 of the 12 most expensive art works at auction in H1 were sold by Christie’s, including Picasso’s Femme assise prés d’une fenêtre, the first masterpiece to sell for more than USD $100m in two years
- Record participation from Asian buyers: contributes 39% of value of Christie’s auction sales worldwide
- Christie’s breaks through traditional categories, with forward-looking 20/21 format and by introducing the NFT market to the international auction stage
- Strong influx of new clients: 30% of all buyers in H1 are new to Christie’s, and 31% of these new buyers are millennials
- Strong start for H2 2021 with London Classic Week, and promising pipeline for the Fall of 2021 and for 2022
- Christie’s is first international auction house committed to becoming NetZero by 2030
- Auctioneer gender balance 50/50 (against 66/34 male/female 6 years ago), with a new generation of auctioneers on stage in Christie’s marquee evening sales
Guillaume Cerutti, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s commented:
“After a year of COVID-related disruption and change, Christie’s strong results in the first half of 2021 show the resilience of the art market and Christie’s ability to adapt and to innovate in a challenging context. We have seen increases in sales across online and private sales, departments and regions worldwide, with unprecedented participation from Asian clients. By introducing the NFT market to the global auction stage, Christie’s has also opened the door for an entirely new base and generation of artists and clients. And as we continue to lead, innovate and commit to our role in a more responsible art market, we are incredibly proud to promote diverse talent, not only among our leadership but in the artists whose work we celebrate through our sales.”
HALF-YEAR DETAILED HIGHLIGHTS:
Christie’s sold 7 of the 12 most expensive artworks sold at auction in H1 2021, including the top two lots: Pablo Picasso’s monumental masterpiece Femme assise près d’une fenêtre was the first work to be sold at auction over $100 million since 2019 at Christie’s inaugural 21st Century evening sale in New York this May; Basquiat’s Warrior became the most valuable western work ever to be offered in Asia, selling for $41.9 M USD via livestream from London to Hong Kong during global 20th century sales; in addition to the online world record for Beeple.
Clients in Asia contributed 39% of the total value of sales in H1; in EMEA 33% and in the Americas 28%. Sales volumes were up significantly across all four global sale rooms, with New York leading at $1.1 B, followed by London, Hong Kong and Paris.
STRENGTH IN ASIA
Strong YTD results are driven in large part by growth in Asian participation; 2021 reveals a significant increase in purchasing power from Asia across all regions and many categories ($1.04 B total in live and online purchases to date is highest H1 spend in last 5 years); Hong Kong H1 auctions at Christie’s Asia achieve (£ 353M GBP/ US$495M) a 40% increase since H1 2019; The Sakura Diamond achieves world record for the most valuable jewel sold at auction in Hong Kong ($29.29 M USD).
NEW 20/21 FORMAT
In May, Christie’s made history by shifting its approach to presenting the art of the 20th and 21st Century, creating a new department and evening sales format that generates strong results, new buyer participation and creates a platform for underrepresented artists.
Christie’s pioneered the inauguration of NFTs into the global auction market and is leading this entirely new collecting category with $93.2 M in sales this year to date (more than double any competitor); Christie’s was the first international auction house to sell an NFT of a purely digital work of art, hosting the revolutionary online sale of Beeple’s Everydays that achieved $69 million and set the record for the most expensive work sold online; Iconic sales followed of Larva Labs’ Cryptopunks ($17 M) and digital artwork by FEWOCiOUS ($2.16 M); Christie’s leadership in the NFT market attracted a newer, younger audience to Christies.com; 73% of NFT sales registrants are new to Christie’s, at an average age of 38 (13 years younger than the average age for clients in other sales); Several have also crossed over to purchase works by established/blue chip artists.
30% of all buyers are new to Christie’s in H1 (26% in 2019), with 2/3 entering via online sales; 31% of new buyers are millennials and 32% are women (up from 27% last year); New buyers to date come first from EMEA (39%), second from Americas (33%), third from APAC (29%), with the greatest number of new buyers from the United States, China (Hong Kong), and the United Kingdom overall; Growth in both new registrant/bidder and buyer activity is consistent across regions and sale channels.
GROWTH IN ONLINE SALES
Online sales continue to see extraordinary growth, up 178% USD on H1 2020 to £158.8 M (USD$ 222.7 M); average lot value is $27 K (double H1 2020 and 6x H1 2015); e-commerce continues to be a strong driver of client engagement across all departments with 64% more new buyers entering online in 2021 compared to 2019 (up 42% from 2020); in Dubai Christie’s shattered the online world record for watch auctions, achieving a total of more than US $14.12 M, including Christie’s most expensive watch sold online worldwide; despite return of live auctions this year, our online sales channel has continued the growth we saw during 2020 due to more lots offered in 2021 than 2020.
In Paris, the Michel Périnet Collection realized the highest total for any African and Oceanic art sale (€66 M / £56.9 M / $78.5 M), becoming the second highest price for a collection sold at Christie’s France; In New York and London the Collection of Henry Ford II, sold across multiple categories and dedicated sales in New York and London, achieved a combined total of $30.6 M, more than double the combined low estimate; In New York, Shang: Early Chinese Ritual bronzes from the Daniel Shapiro collection realised $10.1 M in March; La Reverie: The Collection of Sydell Miller achieved a combined total of $46.6 M, across sales of Impressionist and Modern art and decorative arts.
HYBRID = GLOBAL AUDIENCE
30,000 clients have engaged with Christie’s across all three sales channels to date this year—registrants, consignors and private sales buyers/sellers (+54% from H1 2020). 26.2 K clients registered to bid at auction (+59% from 2020). The new hybrid digitization of our auctions created an extraordinarily accessible environment in which anyone can now witness and participate in a sale taking place across the globe; Christies.com had 7.5 million unique visitors.
Christie’s is first to launch a WeChat mini program, enabling clients to participate in all Christie’s sales around the world by placing live bids for online-only sales, and absentee bids in live auctions, via login directly to their Christie’s account on this popular Asian platform; new Christie’s app launching soon will offer enhanced client experience; Christie’s is also the first auction house to launch a RED (Xiao Hong Shu) business account, extending Christie’s luxury leadership to engage broader and younger Chinese audiences and clients.
CLIENT ENGAGEMENT AND RETURN
Christie’s average of more than 4 bidders per lot for both live and online auctions demonstrates stronger than ever engagement from our clients, our highest such average to date; 17% of all buyers/bidders in H1 are active across multi-clusters (up from 12% last year and 15% in H1 2019); this year we see an 11% increase (vs H1 2019) in the number of clients bidding across multiple departments; Christie’s continues to provide the strongest returns to consignors, on average achieving a hammer value of 125% of Low Estimate this semester.
ROBUST PRIVATE SALES & GLOBAL POP-UP EXHIBITIONS
The market for private sales is growing in size, value and depth. Building on its 139% increase in Private Sales in 2020, Christie’s shows a more than 238% rise (USD) against the 1H of 2019 and an increase of 41% on 2020; with a third more sales above $5 million against the same period last year; 20% more individual transactions across departments, with particular growth across Jewels and Old Masters; a busy private sales pop-up programme around the regions generates tremendous response in key collecting centers such as Southampton, Aspen, Monte Carlo and online sales.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Over the past six months, more women have presided over live sales from Christie’s rostrum than ever before: 76% of our marquee evening sales this year featured female auctioneers; our current auctioneer gender balance is nearly 50/50%, (was 66/34% male/female 6 years ago); As part of PRIDE in June, we were privileged to feature the extraordinary NFT artwork of 18-year old transgender digital artist FEWOCiOUS—the youngest artist ever to be presented at Christie’s. Christie’s Say It Loud collaboration with curator Destinee Ross-Sutton raises visibility for under-represented artists.
We have made good progress in our global Sustainability initiative to become carbon NetZero by 2030—the first international auction house to commit to this goal—and soon will release our first environmental impact report; on track for over 90% of our offices’ energy supply to be renewable by end of Q3 2021; Banksy’s Game Changer, a tribute to international frontline workers during the global pandemic, sold for a world auction record of £16,758,000 with proceeds to support community healthcare and wellbeing projects in the UK; Christie’s 21st century platform elevates the market for women artists and artists of color.
Christie’s continues its partnership with the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair this fall, providing the fair with both an online and on-site platform to showcase more artists and more artworks to international audiences while demonstrating Christie’s commitment to showcasing contemporary African art to its global client base. The next exhibition will be held in London at Christie’s King Street Galleries in October.
Notes to Editors
*In accordance with standard accountancy practice, Christie’s uses a sales weighted average to account for exchange rate fluctuations. During first half 2021 please note that all cumulative sales figures are reported in £ and US$, using a sales weighted average (SWA) of £1: $1.402. The prices for individual lots for 2021 are reported as when sold. All auction sales figures include premium and are reported net of applicable fees.
Images related to first-half sales and activities can be taken from this Dropbox link:
Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).
Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).
Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.
Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats.
Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.
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Images available on request
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