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Christie’s Global Art Sales Achieve $3.2 Billion in the First Half of 2011

Home sales may be slowing and stocks may be volatile, but the art market is riding high, thanks to a surge of new collectors across Europe and Asia who feel confident about the value of everything from Ming vases to Mark Rothko paintings.

Auctioneer Christie’s announced that its worldwide sales for the first half reached $3.2 billion (£2.0 billion) in the first half of the year, up 15 percent on the same period in last year. The world’s biggest art business, owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault, increased the number of lots sold by 30 per cent year-on-year and led the market at all price levels demonstrating its commitment to serving collectors who participate at differing price levels.

Art priced between $815,000 and $1.6 million had an average sell-through rate in excess of 90 percent. Additionally, Christie’s sold eight of the top ten lots auctioned in the public marketplace, reporting sales of more than $20 million. The auctioneer also sold 376 lots for more than $1 million at auctions.

Top 10 lots sold through first-half 2011 by Christie’s

1. $38,442,500: Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1963-1964 New York; May 11.

2. $33,682,500: Mark Rothko, Untitled No. 17, 1961 New York; May 11 .

3. $29,133,148: Pablo Picasso, Femme assise, robe bleue 1939, King Street; June 21.

4. $28,666,155: Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, 1953, King Street; June 28.

5. $27,522,500: Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1986 , New York; May 11.

6. $25,282,500: Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Self- Portrait, 1974, New York; May 11

7. $22,482,500: Claude Monet, Les Peupliers, 1891, New York; May 4.

8. $22,482,500: Maurice de Vlaminck, Paysage de banlieue, 1905, New York; May 4.

9. $21,866,588: Pablo Picasso, Picasso, Jeune fille endormie, 1935, King Street; June 21. (pictured above)

10. $21,362,500: Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d’Alger, version L, 1955, New York; May 4.

In Continental Europe and the UK, auction sales totalled £803.4 million ($1.3 billion), up 24% in £ on the first half of 2010; sales in the Americas totalled £577.7 million ($941.6 million), down 13% in £; sales in Asia totalled £296 million ($482.5 million), up 48% in £ and sales in the Middle East totalled £6.6 million ($10.8 million), up 10% in £.

Christie’s Private Sales secured £286.7 million ($467.3 million) of sales in Jewellery, Old Masters, Impressionist and Modern Art, Asian Art, American Art and Post-War and Contemporary Art, up 57% year-on-year.

Works priced between £500,000 and £1 million also continue to sell particularly well, with average sell-through rates in excess of 90%.

Continental Europe, the US and the UK continue to account for the highest proportion of new clients with 78% of new clients in the first half of 2011 from these regions. Greater China (Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) accounted for 13% of new client registrations in the period, an increase of 20% year-on-year.

Nearly 19% of Christie’s clients now bid online (up 2% year-on-year) with the total value of lots sold online rising 24% year-on-year to £37.5 million ($59.9 million).

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