Christie’s 2014 sales go down in art history

Ollie Gordon
Prestigious art business Christie’s was founded in London by James Christie in 1766
THE WORLD’S leading art business and auction house Christie’s yesterday reported art sales of £5.1bn for the year ended December 2014, the highest such figure of any art company in the history of the market.

The total was a was up 12 per cent year-on-year, driven by growth in all the company’s activities and across all its markets, along with strong sales of its most expensive pieces.

The London-based firm saw growth across all its platforms during the year, with auction sales increasing 10 per cent year-on-year to £4.2bn, private sales rising 20 per cent to £916.1m and online sales achieving 54 per cent growth to £21.4m for the period.

As for collections, the departments selling post-war and contemporary art, impressionist and modern art, jewellery, and decorative arts all had a particularly prosperous year. Post-war and contemporary art had its best ever year with sales of £1.7bn, up 33 per cent on 2013 – a highlight being the sale of Edouard Manet’s “Le Printemps” for $65.1m to the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Sales of impressionist and modern art grew 14 per cent to £732.5m. Jewellery sales were up 7 per cent to £460.2m. Sales of decorative arts totalled $41.3m (£27.2m), a year-on-year increase of nine per cent.

“Christie’s sales grew by 12 per cent during 2014 and the team has succeeded by focusing on the art and connecting it to a growing global audience,” said Patricia Barbizet, Christie’s new chief executive officer.

“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 per cent increase in works sold above $10m.

“Our strategy to develop in new markets such as China and India and in new channels such as private sales and e-commerce, 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.”