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Christie's Auction Sales +16% to $7B in 2013

Jewelry Sales +18% to $678M
Jan 22, 2014 4:48 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Christie's auction house reported that sales in 2013 rose 16 percent year on year to $7.13 billion (GBP 4.54 billion), representing the highest total to date for the company. Christie's added that sales growth was driven by a 30 percent jump in the number of new buyers, who accounted for 22 percent of total sales.

Christie’s also reported a record year for global jewelry sales, with a total of $678.3 million (GBP 432 million) or an 18 percent increase from 2012. Upon executing the sale of The Winston Legacy in May and The Orange in November, Christie’s Geneva led the company’s jewelry sales with $228.4 million.

More than 120 jewels sold in excess of $1 million each, 14 lots sold above $5 million each and five above $10 million. Colored and colorless diamonds, natural pearls, distinguished private collections and three  online-only jewelry auctions all contributed to strong results. With many new buyers in Europe, the U.S. and Asia actively participating, competition has become more intense than ever for rare jewels and gems of only the highest quality.

François Curiel, the international head of jewelry, said, “In 1994, Christie’s worldwide jewelry sales totaled $190 million, with Geneva, London and New York as our most important centers, where top-quality gemstones traded at $80,000 per carat. In November 2013, at Christie’s Geneva, we sold The Orange for a world record price of $35.5 million at $2.4 million per carat and achieved $125.3 million in one sale. Last year, the prices achieved and the records set soared above all previous records and raised the jewelry auction market to an entirely new level. The top 10 jewels sold at Christie’s demonstrate jewelry as art – gemstones of such quality they will perhaps only be seen once in a lifetime.”

Overall auction sales rose 15 percent year on year to $5.9 billion, while private sales  surged 20 percent to $1.19 billion. The company's first year of online-only sales totaled $20.8 million. Strong results were recorded in all regions, with significant activity in Asia driven by a 32 percent increase in sales from Hong Kong auctions. Christie's added that an increasing number of Chinese buyers accounted for 22 percent of global sales, a 63 percent increase on spending compared with 2012. Christie's also held its first sale in Mumbai in December, which realized $15.4 million, more than double the presale estimate.

Steven Murphy, the CEO of Christie's, said, “We continue to see a surge in interest across categories and across the globe, fueled in large part by the online platform enabling greater connectivity between buyers, sellers and the objects of their pursuit. Our strategy to invest in new markets such as China, new channels such as private sales and online sales and to build on our position at the leading auction house, has enabled Christie’s to grow. Our continuing goal is to provide more to our clients and to convene new clients to enjoy art, be it through auctions, exhibitions or online.”

The top lot of the year at Christie's was a Francis Bacon, three studies of Lucian Freud oil painting on canvas in three parts, painted in 1969, that sold for $142.4 million. The top jewelry lot was, of course, The Princie Diamond, a 34.65-carat, cushion-cut, fancy intense pink Golconda diamond that achieved a record price of $39.3 million.

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Tags: art, Auctions, China, Christie's, Jeff Miller, Jewelry, revenue, top lots
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