A $495-million post-war and contemporary art auction helped lift Christie's sales for the first six months of the year to a total $3.68 billion, up 9% on the same period last year, and the highest total for the period in art market history.
The amount includes private sales of $711.8 million, an increase of 13% on the same period last year.
Fuelled by a global demand for art, and aided by Christie’s online initiatives and investment in growth markets, auctions continued to attract new collectors at every price level and from all around the world. Bidders in the first six months came from 128 countries and 10% of those were new clients.
New and established Asian clients were especially active during this period, including a 15% growth of registered bidders from the region. Christie’s announced in April that they had become the first international auction house to be granted a license to operate independently in China, and will host an auction in Shanghai in September 2013.
In December 2013, Christie’s will hold its inaugural auction in Mumbai, becoming the first international auction house to host sales in India.
“The art market is expanding at all levels. The first half of this year saw Christie’s hold the most successful art auction in history with the $495 million sale of Post War and Contemporary Art, while also seeing that 45% of all buyers at our E-commerce auctions were entirely new clients,” said Steven P. Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s.
Post-War & Contemporary art led the categories with record auction sales of £665.4 million ($1.02 billion) – a 16% increase on the same period last year. The category saw increased demand at every level, with a 52% increase in new clients bidding for works of art under £100,000. The Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 15 May realised $495 million (£326.7 million) becoming the most valuable art auction ever held.
Notable increases were also seen for Asian Art which realised auction sales of £284.5 million ($435.3 million) (+28%); and Old Masters & 19th Century Art which totaled £78.4 million ($120 million) (+9%).
The highest auction price for the first half of the year at Christie’s was paid for Jackson Pollock’s Number 19 which sold on 15 May in New York for $58,363,750 (£38,520,075).