HISTORIC auction house Christie’s sold more than £4.54bn worth of art and antiques during 2013 as booming numbers of first-time buyers led the firm to a record year of sales.
Christie’s, founded in London in 1766, saw the number of new buyers increase 30 per cent last year. In total, these newcomers accounted for 22 per cent of all global sales.
“Christie’s has succeeded again by focusing on the art and connecting it to the ever-increasing audience of enthusiasts and collectors,” said chief executive Steven Murphy.
“We continue to see a surge in interest across categories and across the globe, fuelled in large part by the online platform enabling greater connectivity between buyers, sellers and the objects of their pursuit.”
Total sales for the year were up 16 per cent from 2012, with significant growth reported in Asia where sales rose 32 per cent to £622.6m, driven by Hong Kong and China.
“Our strategy to invest in new markets such as China, new channels such as private sales and online sales, and to build on our position at the leading auction house, has enabled Christie’s to grow,” said Murphy who added that Chinese sales had grown 63 per cent from 2012.
The firm also held its first auctions in Shanghai and Mumbai last year.
European sales totaled £1.33bn while those from the Americas totaled £1.8bn.
Online auctions, while only accounting for around 10 per cent of sales, were a key driver of new buyers with 45 per cent of buyers from over 100 countries on the online platform being new to Christie’s.
Auction represented 60 per cent of sales, with 30 per cent from private sales.
Christie’s is owned by Artemis, Francois Pinault’s investment group, and does not provide profit details.
TOP 10 LOTS SOLD AT CHRISTIE’S IN 2013
1 Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud - $142.4m
2 Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog (Orange) - $58.4m
3 Jackson Pollock, Number 19 - $58.4m
4 Andy Warhol, Coca-Cola  - $57.3m
5 Roy Lichtenstein, Woman with Flowered Hat - $56.1m
6 Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dustheads - $48.8m
7 Mark Rothko, No. 11 (Untitled) - $46.1m
8 Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hébuterne (au chapeau) - $42.1m
9 Edward Hopper, East Wind Over Weehawken - $40.5m
10 The Princie Diamond - $39.3m