Shane Ferro
Art market news and commentary by the staff of Art+Auction

MARKET WATCH: Art market news and commentary by the staff of Art+Auction

Christie’s Reports $6.3 Billion Year, Emphasizes Strong Middle Market

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Christie’s released its annual sales report today, tallying a $6.27 billion global total for 2012 (including buyer’s premium). That’s up 10 percent over the previous year and, according to Reuters, a more than $1 billion lead over rival auction house Sotheby’s. But with market analysts increasingly bemoaning the collapse of the middle market, Christie’s made a point of emphasizing the success of its more populist platforms.

Its South Kensington outpost, for instance, where buyers can frequently find works for less than £1,000, had a record year, according to the report. It increased bidder registration by 10 percent and had an overall sales increase of 20 percent. Plus, the house’s online auctions, which attracts buyers from the lower echelons of the market, grew by 11 percent.

“Our third straight year of record results is a sign that more people in more places in the world are captivated by art and are seeking to acquire it, and Christie’s has aligned istelf with collectors and their needs,” said CEO Steven P. Murphy in a press release. “More importantly, this trend is apparent at every level of the art market, from under £1,000 to over £50 million, as technological advancements highlight the appeal and the ease of engaging with Christie’s and the works of art we handle.”

The market for works at “accessible prices” continues to represent the bulk of its sales, Christie’s says, but still, in 2012, it managed to auction no less than 49 works each priced at more than $10 million.

— Rachel Corbett

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