Despite its unconventional format—replete with dramatic video preludes as each successive auctioneer took the rostrum—the Christie’s sale could be considered a success. The overall sales figure of $420.9 million bested the Sotheby’s total from its June 29th global sale, which brought in $363.2 million across about the same number of lots.
The hammer prices from the Christie’s sale totaled $361.5 million, firmly within the presale estimate of $332.3 million to $444 million. Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said during a virtual press conference after the sale that, combined with the results of the Hong Kong evening sale that immediately preceded the global auction and the New York day sale that immediately followed it, the auction house was selling more than $500 million worth of art in the span of 24 hours.
Cerutti also noted that the sale’s buyers were exceptionally well-distributed geographically: 38 percent from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; 37 percent from the Americas; and 26 percent from Asia Pacific. He and others from Christie’s saw this geographic diversity as a signal that their global sale format had been a success, engaging an exceptionally broad coterie of collectors.
What this latest Christie’s result suggests—after the recent virtual sales at Sotheby’s and Phillips, and a string of successful auctions
by all three houses in Hong Kong over the past week—is that despite a global pandemic and the upending of the traditional art market calendar, collector demand is still steady at the top end of the market.
“This was a new format—and it worked,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of post-war and contemporary art in New York, said during the press conference. “It showed the market is ready for new formats of selling and new formats of thinking about collecting art.”