Published: September 16, 2003
Christie’s International has reported worldwide sales totaling $947 million for the first six months of 2003. This figure represents auction sales of $883 million and private sales of $64 million.
The total is a decrease against the 2002 half-year total of $989 million, which the company said can be attributed to uncertainty in the general worldwide economy and markets as a result of the Iraq conflict, the adverse impact of foreign currency movements, and the SARS epidemic in the Far East. The SARS outbreak compelled the postponement of Christie’s Hong Kong sales of Asian art and jewelry from April to July (the sales totaled $52 million) and are not reflected in the half-year sales results reported.
In Christie’s salesrooms around the world, 87 works of art sold for more than $1 million, led by Paul Cézanne’s “Portrait de Paul Cézanne,” circa 1895, which sold for $17.4 million at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art in May in New York.
“We are delighted to have established such strong market share in the first half of the year,” said Edward Dolman, chief executive officer, Christie’s International. “Overall the art market remains healthy, steady and selective. Christie’s continues to lead the field in achieving consistent sold percentages at all price levels and in all regions by offering the highest quality and the most attractive objects with appropriately priced presale estimates.
“We felt our decision to postpone the Hong Kong sales was the right course of action, and the strength of the Asian market was reflected in the July sale results, which were the second highest total for a sales series in Hong Kong. Christie’s activities in France also continue to grow, and with the half-year auction sales total of $46 million, we have established our position amongst the market leaders and have reported increased sales compared with the same period last year. Looking ahead, a number of important consignments for the autumn auctions in New York, London and Paris are already agreed. While we continue to be focused on remaining the market leader and offering the most exclusive works of art at auction, Christie’s are also committed to growing our strong regional auction businesses that handle the highest quality of objects in a broad range of categories, as well as at a wide range of price ranges.”
The breakdown in sales results among the international sale centers for the first half were as follows: Europe, $510 million; King Street, $332 million; South Kensington, $67 million; United States, $367 million; Rockefeller Center, $361 million; Asia and Australia $7 million (results do not include July 2003 Hong Kong sales that realized $52 million).
The top ten international department totals were as follows: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art, $388 million; Impressionist and modern art, $133 million; European furniture, $98 million; British and Irish art, $69 million; jewelry, jadeite and watches, $65 million; Old Masters, $46 million; Asian art, $43 million; silver and Russian, $23 million; American paintings, $22 million; books and manuscripts, $18 million; and antiquities, $8 million.
The top ten lots sold at Christie’s worldwide were: Paul Cézanne, “Portrait de Paul Cézanne,” circa 1895, $17,367,500; Mark Rothko, “No. 9 (White and Black on Wine),” 1958, $16,359,500 (world auction record for the artist); Edgar Degas, “Petite danseuse de quatorze ans,” circa 1879-1881, $10,311,500; Piet Mondrian, “Composition in White, Blue and Yellow,” circa 1936, $8,071,500; Pablo Picasso, “Femme dans un fauteuil,” 1932, $7,231,313; Vincent van Gogh, “Nature morte, vase avec oeillets,” $7,103,504; Mark Rothko, “Brown and Blacks in Reds,” 1957, $6,727,500; Vincent van Gogh, “Une liseuse de romans,” $5,609,872; Thomas Eakins, “Cowboys in the Badlands,” 1888, $5,383,500 (world auction record for the artist); and Yves Klein, “RE 2,” 1958, $5,271,500.
Among the international highlights in the United Kingdom and Europe, the sale of the Forbes collection of Victorian pictures and works of art totalled $27 million in London. Established and new collectors to the category crowded the saleroom and the sale was 75 percent sold by lot and 81 percent by value. Sixty-five new artist records at auction were established.
Three Renaissance silver-gilt pieces from the collection of Eugen and Fritz Gutmann were sold at Christie’s London for a combined total of $3.3 million following the auction of 90 works of art from the Gutmann collection at Christie’s Amsterdam in May, which realized $983,981. The sales were held following an act of restitution made last year by the Dutch government.
The world record for a photograph at auction was established by the daguerreotype by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey from the archive of the artist. “Temple de Jupiter Olympien” realized $922,488 in May in London.
The furniture department and the newly established private collection and house sales division saw consistent results throughout the season. Several private collections were offered in London including “50 Years of Collecting — The Decorative Arts of Georgian England,” which realized $10.4 million.
Sales at Christie’s in Paris totaled $46 million, an increase on the same period in 2002. The collection of Madame Cates realized $6 million and led several sales that included works from the estates Baron Fould-Springer and from Cécile de Rothschild and the collection of Valerian Rybar and Jean-Francois Daigre.
In the Americas, the spring 2003 sales of Impressionist and modern, postwar and contemporary art in New York totaled $161.5 million. The postwar and contemporary art evening sale on May 14 totaled $69.8 million – more than $23 million over the spring 2002 sale – and established world auction records for seven artists, including Mark Rothko, Chuck Close and Takashi Murakami.
Property from the Seagram Collection, formed over a 40-year period and long regarded as one of the world’s finest corporate art collections, was sold in a series of sales this spring and summer in New York and realized a total of $12.4 million.
The collection of Russell B. Aitken (1910-2002) comprising African, American Indian and Oceanic art; arms and armor; military artifacts; medals and decorations; wildlife and sporting art, as well as one of the most significant private collections of sporting books, was sold in a series of sales in New York. The sales to date have totaled $10.5 million. They began in January with the auction of The Russell B. Aitken Collection of Wildfowl Decoys in Association with Guyette and Schmidt, Inc, which was 100 percent sold. The top lot, a preening pintail drake, sold for $801,500 against a presale estimate of $300/500,000, a world auction record for an American waterfowl decoy.
A special sale of Picasso lithographs totaled $6.2 million and was 100 percent sold in New York in April. The sale attracted many new buyers whose active bidding pushed prices well over presale estimates. The top lot, “Green Haired Woman: Seven States and the Woman with a Hair Net,” sold for $567,500.
The international jewelry department maintained its leading market share with sales realizing a worldwide total of $65 million. Auction highlights included the New York sale of “Magnificent Jewels,” including the estate of Lillian Goldman, which realized $14.6 million. The most expensive jewel sold by any auction house in the world so far this year was the Star of the Emirates, a 53.07 Asscher-cut, D color, internally flawless diamond, that realized $2.5 million at Christie’s Geneva.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm