Ten records! It was with this figure that Christie’s triumphantly presented its report on its auction of 7 March, which brought two wonderful weeks in London to an end. A few days later, following its evening of Impressionist and modern art, (see A Record for Magritte at Christie’s), the auction house succeeded in selling 56 of its 59 lots of contemporary art for a total of £94.6 million. This represented an increase of 65% on the same period last year.
Sales figures during 2016 reflected the persistent absence of spectacular sales, however, it seems that they are back as three works were sold at Christie’s for more than £10 million: Cobourg 3+1 More by Peter Doig (£12.7 million), No. 1 by Mark Rothko (£10.7 million) and Être et paraître by Jean Dubuffet (£10 million).
The evening boasted no fewer than ten artist records. Freischwimmer 186 by Wolfgang Tillmans, who currently has a retrospective at Tate Modern, went for £269,000. Another record was set by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the artist of Nigerian origin, whose works are very rarely presented on the market and who is currently very highly rated by collectors and institutions (see Prix Canson® Awarded to Njideka Akunyili Crosby). The Beautyful Ones quadrupled its estimate, selling for £2.5 million.
Works by Albert Oehlen, Günther Uecker and Cecily Brown also reached record prices at Christie’s.
Closure of the South Kensington sales rooms
The day after the above sale, and despite its very good results, Christie’s issued a press release announcing restructuring and budgetary cuts. In particular, the auction house is closing its South Kensington sales room in London and reducing its staff at its Amsterdam branch. Guillaume Cerutti, Christie’s CEO, explained that the plan was to adapt to market developments and focus on Asia and online sales.