Christie’s International Auction House broke sales records in the first six months of 2014 with $4.5 billion in fine and decorative art sales due to the influx of first-time buyers, many of them affluent young collectors from China.
Up 22 percent from the same period last year, Christie’s sold $3.5 billion worth of art at auction with an additional $828 million coming from private-brokered art sales, according to The Wall Street Journal.
With 52 pieces of art that sold for over $10 million each, Christie’s owes its record success to new art buyers, who accounted for 24 percent of sales this year.
The auction house is betting big on China. Chinese art buyers accounted for 24 percent of total sales over the last six months, up 46 percent compared to the same period last year. To capitalize on this trend, Christie’s will conduct additional sales at its new showroom in Shanghai near the Bund once it opens in October.
However, according to the South China Morning Post, sales at Christie’s Asian auction houses declined by 8 percent even though Asia accounted for 28 percent of the company’s total sales in 2014 so far. This seems to indicate that wealthy Asian buyers are spending overseas at the company’s European and United States auction houses or through brokered sales.
As for the categories of art sold, postwar and contemporary art fetched $1.3 billion at auction—up 30 percent from last year—and impressionist and modern art brought in $939 million—up 49 percent. Jewelry, watches, and wine were up 20 percent, bringing in $455.5 million.
Sales of Asian art, however, declined to $369.6 million, a drop of 15 percent. Dealers see this as a sign of buyers tastes shifting to Western art due to skyrocketing prices of traditional Asian artwork, including scroll paintings and jade figurines.
Buyers from Christie’s biggest markets, the United States, Europe, and Asia, each bought roughly a third of Christie’s contemporary art offerings, which has driven up the price considerably.
Though the summer months will be quiet for Christie’s, major auctions are planned in Hong Kong, New York, and London in the fall.
image credit: sunbeamprowce/wikipedia