Robust luxury real estate sales in the first half of the year provided compelling evidence that hard assets can be a valuable hedge against inflation. A similar outlook seems to be driving the market for art and luxury goods. Christie’s, the venerable auction house now in its 256th year, logged its best first-half performance since 2015, as a number of notable collections and objects came under the hammer.
Superlative First-Half Results
“Our results in the first half of the year have been remarkably strong,” said Guillaume Cerutti, CEO of Christie’s. Total sales were up 18 percent vs. the first half of 2021 to $4.1 billion, and Christie’s accounted for seven of the twelve most expensive works sold at auction during that time.
The top lot was Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, which sold May 9 in New York City for $195 million. Offered as part of the Collection of Thomas and Doris Amman, it is now the most valuable 20th-century artwork and second most expensive work ever sold at auction.
The first half also furthered Christie’s reputation as the auction house of record for the world’s best private collections. Sales included the Anne H. Bass Collection from which Edgar Degas’ Petite danseuse de quatorze ans sold for $41.6 million, breaking a 15-year-old mark for the artist, and the Givenchy Collection, which resulted in sales of $123.7 million.
Enthusiasm For Jewelry, Watches, Handbags, and Wine
Global luxury goods also achieved strong performance with $413.3 million sold, mirroring total year-over-year sales growth of 18 percent. One highlight was the $21.7 million sale of The Rock, a 228-carat pear-shaped diamond that is the largest white diamond ever to appear at auction.
Timepieces also continue to enthrall collectors. The Kairos Collection of 128 Patek Philippe watches was 100 percent sold in Geneva, Hong Kong, and New York—resulting in total sales 183 percent above the low estimate.
Wine sales in the first half rang up a record-breaking $57.8 million, a 234 percent increase over the year-earlier period. This included the historic $19.6 million sale of “The Visionary’s Spectacular Cellar”—which ranks as the highest-ever total for the category and most valuable single-owner collection at Christie’s.
Flight to Quality as NFTs Face Test
With volatility hitting the cryptocurrency market throughout the first half of 2022, NFT art and collectibles are undergoing their first true test. As a result, buyers are seeking safe harbor among more proven entities.
Christie’s sold $4.75 million in NFT art in the first half, including the top NFT lot at auction—Refik Anadol’s Living Architecture: Casa Batlló, which sold for $1.39 million. Christie’s remains strongly committed to the digital art market it played a major role in creating.
Promising Pipeline for Second Half
The remainder of 2022 holds promise for continued strong sales. The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection will be offered for sale through four auctions taking place in New York City from October 20 to 23. Christie’s recently unveiled the first set of highlights from the collection, which features a curated group of almost 1,500 lots, including important Impressionist works by Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. Proceeds will benefit the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts, dedicated to supporting arts and science organizations.
Another charity-focused auction, Sixty Years of James Bond, will take place in September. Christie’s and EON Productions are holding a two-part sale of 60 lots from vehicles and watches to costumes and props. The top lot is a silver Aston Martin DB5 stunt car, one of eight stunt replicas built for the film by Aston Martin. The only DB5 stunt car to be released for public sale, it has an estimated sale price between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000.
And finally, Christie’s and the estate of philanthropist Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, recently announced an unprecedented sale to take place in November in New York City. Comprising more than 150 masterpieces across five centuries of art history, Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection is valued in excess of $1 billion and is expected to be the largest and most exceptional art auction in history. Pursuant to Mr. Allen’s wishes, all sale proceeds will be dedicated to philanthropy.
The Intersection of Art and Real Estate
Christie’s International Real Estate works closely with Christie’s to give real estate clients special access to auction, private-sale, and appraisal services for art and luxury goods, and vice versa. Personalized, integrated solutions such as these are rare in today’s residential marketplace, where rapidly evolving conditions require specialized advice.
“With increased volatility across a variety of asset classes, and the longer-term economic and cultural impacts of the pandemic still being ascertained, a high level of collaboration between the experts at Christie’s and Christie’s International Real Estate is important for clients of both firms throughout the rest of 2022 and beyond,” said Mike Golden, co-CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate.