Christie’s Reports Steep Drop in Sales for First Half of 2016

Decline is chalked up to fewer pricey lots

In keeping with the prevailing art market mood of “managing expectations” Christie’s released a report on July 20 showing that sales for the first half of 2016 totaled $3 billion (£2.1 billion), a 33 percent drop in US dollar terms and a 27 percent drop in British pounds. The comparable figure for 2015 was $4.5 billion (£2.9 billion).

According to a statement, sales volumes are down 29 percent, “mainly due to the impact of a drop in supply of works of art above £20 million at auction, with 29 lots selling for more than $6.5 million, compared with 47 lots in first half of 2015.”

The auction house said sales in America totaled  $1.1 billion, which is down 33 percent from first half of 2015.


Source: Christie’s

Christie’s nonetheless attempted a positive spin, saying that the results “are underpinned by a strong, diverse global buyer base, growth in online and the volume of lots sold for under £1 million.”

CEO Patricia Barbizet insisted that “there is continued global demand to acquire works of art,” in a statement accompanying the results. “Our total focus is on curating sales to meet collector’s demands while satisfying our sellers by ensuring the highest possible number of bidders on each lot.”

Christie’s said new buyers accounted for 25 percent of all buyers in the first half of 2016. New clients in the Americas increased by 22 percent, with the New York saleroom bringing in 21 percent of new buyers globally. Asia and EMERI (which stands for Europe, Middle East, Russia, and India) also accounted for 19 percent and 44 percent of new buyers.

E-commerce sales grew 96 percent, to $15.3 million to $28 million. Christie’s has invested heavily it growing its digital platform in recent years.

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