Christie’s Sales Down From Last Year, But Auction House Still on Top

Christie's in London. (Courtesy Getty Images)

Christie’s in London. (Photo: Getty Images) (Courtesy Getty Images)

Today, Christie’s announced $7.4 billion in total sales for 2015, a decrease of 5 percent from its sales in the previous year. But while the house’s totals may have taken a small dip, its latest figures are still the second highest in the company’s history.

“Amidst an increasingly challenging global financial environment we are in a strong position to adapt to the marketplace and well equipped to service the new, broader, geographically diverse audience for art,” said Christie’s CEO Patricia Barbizet in a statement. ”It is also encouraging that new buyers represent 30 percent of our total buyer base, coming to us through our curated auctions, various categories as well as digital sales.”

Christie’s remains a privately held company, and does not have to disclose the profitability of its sales. However, it’s chief rival, publicly traded Sotheby’s, just this week announced a significant $12 million loss in Q4, a direct result of the doomed sale of its former chairman A. Alfred Taubman’s collection.

Christie’s, on the other hand, boasted the sales of the three most expensive artworks of last year: Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) for $179.37 million, Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché for $170.4 million and Alberto Giacometti’s L’Homme au doigt for $141.29 million.

All three of those works sold in special curated evening sales, “Looking Forward to the Past” on May 11 and “The Artist’s Muse” on November 9, which mixed works from the Impressionist and Modern Art and Postwar and Contemporary departments.

While the house’s decision to move key works from its evening sales to its smartly promoted cross-category curated sales left some auction offerings thin, totals for its Imp/Mod department still reported an impressive 57 percent growth over last year.

Notable sales in other categories include a cushion-cut, fancy vivid pink diamond named the Sweet Josephine, which sold for $28.5 million, a ceramic Falangcai bowl which totaled just over $11 million, and Peter Doig’s painting Cabin Essence which fetched $14.8 million.

Christie’s Sales Down From Last Year, But Auction House Still on Top