See Christie’s 10 Top-Selling Lots of All Time for Its 250th Birthday
Many of these records come from just the last few years.
Christie’s turns 250 this month. In that time the auction house has grown from a modest one-man operation to an international network of 2,500 employees and an annual revenue of $6.1 billion.
When Scottish entrepreneur James Christie staged his first ever sale in London in 1766, the lots had little to do with art. Items for sale included livestock, rare birds, tulip bulbs, a bed, and a coffin. Only a year later, however, Christie used his connections to London’s artistic and intellectual elite to narrow his focus on artworks and luxury goods.
According to auctioneer and Christie’s global president Jussi Pylkkanen, the founder’s “innovative spirit” contributed to the establishment of the auction house as the focal point of creative exchange before the existence of the Royal Academy (founded 1768) or the National Gallery (founded 1824). “James Christie was absolutely decisive in establishing the UK as a cultural center in his time,” Pylkkanen told Monopol recently.
Today the auction house has expanded its influence throughout the globe, and has established itself as one of the primary venues of secondary market exchange for artworks.
Now, as the auction house celebrates its anniversary, we look at the top 10 lots they have sold. Notably, a full seven of the 10 are from the last five years. Here they are:
2. Amadeo Modigliani’s Nu couché (1917) sold for $170.4 million on November 9, 2015.3. Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) sold for $142.4 million on November 12, 2013.
5. Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) sold for $106.4 million on May 4, 2010
7. Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) sold for $87.9 million on November 8, 2006.
8. Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) sold for $86.8 million on May 8, 2012.
9. Barnett Newman’s Black Fire I (1961) sold for $84.1 million on May 13, 2014.
10. Vincent Van Gogh’s Portrait du Dr Gachet (1890) sold for $82.5 million on May 15, 1990.
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