The Big Three Auction Houses Hit a Record $15 Billion in Sales

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The Big Three auction houses have reported hitting a record $15 billion in sales this year. A surge of young, first-time collectors drove the sales of everything from Basquiats to Birkin bags, according to CNBC.

On Monday, Christie’s reported a total sales of $7.1 billion for the year which is their highest total in five years. Earlier in the year, Sotheby’s reported its best showing in the company’s 277-year history with total sales of $7.3 billion. Phillips auction house stated their sales rose to $1.2 billion in 2021.

Courtesy of shogunangel (Flickr CC0)

The flood in global wealth during the COVID pandemic, with central banking easing, government stimulus, soaring asset prices, and a rebound in consumer demand created a massive wave of liquidity for wealthy buyers causing auction records to soar.

Online stock trading and a boom in crypto spawned a new generation of young, wealthy collectors who have started buying luxury goods, wine, diamonds, watches, classic cars, and art from auction houses.

The most expensive piece auctioned off this year was Pablo Picasso’s “Femme assise pres d’une fenetre” which sold for $103.4 million at Christie’s. “In This Case” by Jean-Michel Basquiat was acquired for $93.1 million. The new generation of collectors became new clients to big auction houses when they started buying up the hot commodities they had to offer.

Sotheby’s stated 44% of its bidders were new to the auction house this year. Phillips announced half of their bidders were first-time buyers. The Christie’s reported they had 35% new buyers with two-thirds of them who entered their bids through online sales. Furthermore, one-third of their new clientele were millennials.

Nonfungible tokens (NFT) also added to their boom in funds. In March, Christie’s launched the NFT auction when they sold Beeple’s “Everydays” for $69 million. Sotheby’s profited $100 million from its NFT auction.

It is good to know that the pandemic did not deter collectors new and old from starting or enhancing their collections.

Written by Sheena Robertson


CNBC: Auction sales hit record $15 billion as young, wealthy collectors enter the market; by Robert Frank

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Andrew Smith’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of shogunangel’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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