Christie’s Global Art Sales Total $3.2 Billion in First Half of 2011

“Les Peupliers,” painted by Claude Monet in 1891, sold for $22,482,500 at Christie’s in May.

LONDON – While many are suffering through the recession and a jobless recover, those with cash on hand are spending a lot of it on high-end art, antiques and collectibles, as evidenced in Christie’s International announced today that its worldwide sales of $3.2 billion for the first half of 2011, up 15 percent over last year’s figure (include buyer’s premium).

Sales in the Americas totaled $941.6 million, which is down by 13 percent, indicating that even the well-off is holding back a bit. In Continental Europe and the UK, though, auction sales totaled $1.3 billion, up 24 percent over the first half of 2010, and sales in Asia increased by nearly half, totaling $482.5 million (a 48-percent bump). Sales in the Middle East totaled $10.8 million, up by 10 percent. These totals include private sales of $467.3 million, an increase of 57 percent by over the first half of 2010.

Christie’s said its business was increasing across multiple categories as the global art market continues to expand. While record results in Hong Kong reaffirm it as a growing global art hub and Asia as the fastest growing art market in the world, the strength of the European art market was also firmly illustrated by Christie’s sales across the region. Following a blockbuster year in 2010 for the sale of collections in the U.S., Christie’s New York saw fewer collections come to the market, but a continuing renewed confidence in the market for fine art, antiques, jewelry and watches and wine was driven by increasing participation from private and trade collectors.
“The continued demand for art in the first half of this year is a clear indication of the enduring vigor and passion for great works of art throughout the world,” said Christie’s International CEO Steven P. Murphy.

Looking ahead, these are some of the highlights of the latter half of the year at Christie’s:

• A landmark series of public exhibitions around the world and special events leading up to the sale of the collection of Elizabeth Taylor, the celebrated film star, fashion icon and humanitarian. Held at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre, N.Y. on Dec. 13-16, the sales will include jewelry, fashion, accessories, decorative arts and memorabilia and will be followed by the sale of her paintings in Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London in February 2012.
• Works of art from Cowdray Park, West Sussex, UK, the home of Viscount Cowdray, and Dunecht, Scottish home of Hon. Charles Pearson, to be offered at the largest country house sale of the year at Cowdray Park on Sept. 13-15.
• The sale of the Fould-Springer collection adorning the Abbey Palace of Royaumont near Chantilly, France on Sept. 19-21.
• A charity auction of primary market works by 21 leading artists on Sept. 22 at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre, hosted by David Zwirner and Ben Stiller. All proceeds will go towards schools in Haiti and Christie’s will waive its fees.

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