Published: March 30, 2004
Christie’s International’s worldwide sales totaled $2 billion for 2003, a result the company said confirmed its position as the world’s leading auction house.
The figure represents auction sales of $1.8 billion and private sales of $150 million. In Christie’s salesrooms around the world, 136 works of art sold for more than $1 million, led by Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu couché (sur le côté gauche),” which fetched $26,887,500 at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York on November 4.
“After a challenging first half of the year, we saw strong international auction results for the rest of 2003, most notably with our success in the French and Asian markets, and Christie’s business overall for the year finished exceptionally well,” said Edward Dolman, chief executive officer, Christie’s International.
“The art market is robust, as recently exhibited by the solid results achieved by Christie’s evening sales of Impressionist and Modern art and postwar and contemporary art in London, and our forecast for 2004 is stronger than last year’s,” Dolman continued. “With that in mind, we are identifying areas of the business that have growth potential, both internationally and regionally at all levels of the art market. We will continue to invest in Christie’s to expand our markets and client base by delivering higher standards of client service.”
In addition to the Modigliani, which established a world auction record for the artist, the top ten lots sold at Christie’s worldwide from January to December 2003 included: Fernand Léger, “La femme en rouge et vert,” 1914, $22,407,500, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, New York, November 4 (world auction record for the artist); Paul Cézanne, “Portrait de Paul Cézanne,” circa 1895, $17,367,500, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, New York, May 7; Mark Rothko, “No. 9 (White and Black on Wine),” 1958, $16,359,500, postwar and contemporary art evening sale, New York, May 14 (world auction record for the artist).
Also, Vincent van Gogh, “L’Allée des Alyscamps,” 1888, $11,767,500, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, New York, November 4; Edgar Degas, “Petite danseuse de quatorze ans,” circa 1879-1881, $10,311,500, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, New York, May 7; Vincent van Gogh, “Le pont de Langlois à Arles,” 1888, $8,295,500, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, New York, November 4; Piet Mondrian, “Composition in White, Blue and Yellow,” circa 1936, $8,071,500, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, New York, May 7; Pablo Picasso, “Femme dans un fauteuil,” 1932, $7,231,313, Impressionist and Modern art evening sale, London, February 3; and Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1963, $7,175,500, postwar and contemporary art evening sale, New York, November 11.
In Europe, the company said Christie’s France, which inaugurated sales two years ago, has firmly established its position as the country’s leading auction house, with 65 percent market share against the main international competitor. Sales totaled $92.1 million in 2003, an increase of 55 percent over 2002 totals of $54.4 million. Christie’s France offered 26 highly successful single-owner sales and established more than 20 world auction records in 2003.
Christie’s Geneva offered a magnificent jewels sale in November, highlighted by the Queen Marie of Romania sapphire of 478.68 carats, which fetched $1,494,480, and an oval perfect diamond of 63.93 carats, which realized $4,246,320. Christie’s November sale of important watches, also successfully realized $4,906,801 and was 92 percent sold by lot and 96 percent sold by value.
Spanning two cities, Christie’s Amsterdam and Christie’s London, the Collection of Eugen and Fritz Gutmann, a sale conducted following an act of restitution made last year by the Dutch government, totaled $4,482,145, and was highlighted by three magnificent Renaissance silver-gilt pieces.
Christie’s London broke the world auction record for an Indian jewel in September when the firm sold a Mughal emerald wine cup from the period of Jahangir (1605-1627), for $2,963,665.
The British and Irish Art department at King Street concluded a highly successful year that included the landmark sale of the Forbes collection of Victorian pictures and works of art, which totaled $27,087,858 million.
The first Christie’s London sale to build on the successful New York formula of offering important Russian works of art and paintings alongside silver realized $11,312,338 and was led by a world auction record for a model by Fabergé.
The record price for any work of Renaissance sculpture ever sold at auction was established by a bronze circular relief, one of the most important sculpture discoveries, when it sold in London for $12,084,745.
Sales at Christie’s South Kensington achieved a total of $143 million and notable world auction records were realized, including that for a Navy Board warship model, which achieved a price of $1,129,039.
In the Americas, the fall 2003 sales of Impressionist and Modern and postwar and contemporary art in New York totaled $172 million. The highlight from the Dorothy C. Miller collection was Jasper Johns’ iconic “Gray Numbers,” 1957, which realized $5,271,500.
The European furniture and decorative art sales conducted in New York in October realized $14,274,333. A world auction record for a lacquer commode was set when a Louis XIV ormolu-mounted BVRB commode, circa 1740, sold for $3,031,500.
Property from the Seagram collection was sold in a series of sales in New York in 2003 and realized a total of $12.4 million.
The collection of Russell B. Aitken, comprising African, American Indian and Oceanic Art; arms and armor; military artifacts; medals and decorations; wildlife and sporting art and sporting books, as well as the contents of Champ Soleil, Aitken’s Newport, R.I., residence, sold in a series of sales in New York throughout 2003 and totaled $14,376,458.
A special sale of Picasso lithographs in New York in April realized $6,194,304 and was 100 percent sold, contributing to the most successful year to date for the New York Prints department with 2003 sales totaling $18.4 million.
Christie’s Hong Kong realised an annual total of $98 million, the second highest annual total ever achieved for this region. Christie’s Australia had sales totals of $17.4 million.
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