Christie’s announces global sales of $3.5 billion in the first half of 2012

Christie’s announces worldwide sales for the first half of 2012 of £2.2 billion / $3.5 billion, up 13% by £ (11% by $) compared to the same period last year (figures include buyer’s premium). This includes private sales of £413.4 million / $661.5 million, an increase of 53% by £ (50% by $) on the same period last year[i], and represents the highest total for a corresponding period in company and art market history.

Mark Rothko, Orange, Red, Yellow, 1961. Oil on canvas, 93 x 81 1/4 in. Estimate: $35,000,000-45,000,000. Sold for: $86.9m. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2012.

Post-War and Contemporary art led the categories with auction sales of £576.1 million / $921.8 million – an increase of 34% by £ (31% by $) over the corresponding period last year. The Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 8 May realised $388.5 million (£240.9 million) becoming the most valuable auction ever held in the category. The corresponding auction in London on 27 June realised £132.8 million ($207.3 million) becoming the most valuable auction ever held in the category in Europe.

The highest price for the period at Christie’s was paid for Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow which sold on 8 May in New York for $86,882,500 / ?53,867,150, a world record price for any contemporary work of art sold at auction.
In the first six months of 2012, Christie’s sold 340 works at auction for over $1 million (376 in the same period 2011) and 26 for over $10 million (18 in the same period 2011). Average sold rates (by lot) stayed at 79%, on a par with the previous 2 years. The market at more accessible price levels also performed strongly; Christie’s South Kensington saleroom, which offers works of art from under £1,000, built on two consecutive years of record sales, recording its highest ever total for a corresponding period.

Christie’s continues to welcome new collectors; 19% of all registered bids at global auctions were placed by new clients. Christie’s also continues to see global collectors convene at international auctions; bidders registered from 124 countries and while sale totals decreased from the record levels of 2011 for Asian art and auction sales in Hong Kong, there was a 31% increase in Asian clients registering to bid in New York and London.

Christie’s continue to invest in online initiatives making the art market increasingly accessible. In the first six months of 2012, online continued to attract new clients and prompt greater interactive engagement. The website,, welcomed 20% more unique visitors than the corresponding period in 2011. There was a 15% increase in the number of clients bidding via the internet on Christie’s LIVE™. Looking forward, Christie’s will launch the first in a series of online-only auctions for a global collecting category in August with a sale of fine and rare wines.