'Luxury Defined' Global Report

From Rembrandt to Rocket Man: Christie’s Leads the Auction World

Christie’s experts predict a focus on A+ quality and rarities in 2024 following a year in which the art market contracted and luxury sales soared

Whether art imitates real estate or real estate imitates art, the two are closely intertwined judging from an overview of Christie’s 2023 sales results and a look at the trends that will shape the worlds of fine art and luxury goods in 2024.

Christie’s International Real Estate works hand in hand with the venerable auction house to service clients through exclusive marketing opportunities, events and referrals around the world. This strong relationship produced several successful sales of real estate, art and luxury items in 2023, including:

  • The joint sale of the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin along with the seller’s collection of original Wright-designed furniture pieces
  • The sale of a contemporary art collection belonging to a client of Christie’s International Real Estate’s Parisian Affiliate
  • The sale of the former estate of American Abstract Expressionist, Robert Motherwell, in Connecticut
  • The five-figure sale of a Tiffany diamond brooch belonging to a Christie’s International Real Estate client, who originally brought the item to a Christie’s appraisal event
  • The sale of a €10.5 million villa in Mallorca, Spain, referred by the auction house on behalf of the seller

2023 Highlights: Art & Luxury


Amidst a challenging macro-environment, like the market for luxury homes, the art market saw a contraction in 2023. Yet Christie’s reported that its global sales still exceeded pre-pandemic levels by a healthy margin, tallying $6.2 billion, only 7% below the 2022 total, after factoring in that year’s unicorn event – Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection, the largest sale in auction history at $1.7 billion.

Christie’s 2023 highlights for art works included:

  • Claude Monet’s Le bassin aux nymphéas, the highest-selling work of 2023 at Christie’s, which achieved a total of $74 million in New York
  • The sale of Jean Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile) for $67.1 million in New York
  • Henri Rousseau’s Les flamants, which sold for $43.5 million in New York, shattering the artist’s previous record
  • Japanese artist Sanyu’s Nude on Tapestry, which achieved $24.2 million in Hong Kong
  • Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s 1964 sculpture, Rhinocrétaire I, which sold for $19.4 million in Paris

Last year also saw a number of notable collections come under the hammer at Christie’s, including those from the Getty and Rothschild families; the highly respected collector Sam Josefowitz; the late film director Ivan Reitman and his wife Genevieve; and A & M Records co-founder Jerry Moss. Works from Rembrandt, Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning and others highlighted these sales.

Meanwhile, demand for jewelry, watches, handbags and wine showed no signs of slowing. Christie’s achieved its highest ever total for luxury sales at auction, $1 billion, led by the sale of The Bleu Royal, a 17.61 carat flawless fancy vivid blue diamond. At nearly $44 million, it was the most expensive piece of jewelry ever sold at auction.

Other luxury categories continue to shine, especially where preeminent fashion maisons or celebrity provenance are involved. In Hong Kong, a Hermes diamond Birkin bag in Himalayan crocodile sold for $357,000. The wine collection of music legend Quincy Jones achieved over $1.4 million. In Geneva, the 100% sold auction dedicated to celebrated watchmaker F.P. Journe brought $15.3 million. And the collection of the late Andre Leon Talley, the American fashion journalist and former creative director at Vogue, sold for nearly $3.6 million.

The auction house notes that luxury remains the #1 entry category for new buyers at Christie’s.

What To Watch In 2024

Luxury purse

Looking ahead, all eyes will be on New York in February as Christie’s holds the sale of The Elton John Collection: Goodbye Peachtree Road, featuring items from the iconic musician’s Atlanta home. The opportunity to own a pair of Sir Elton’s sunglasses, his diamond-studded Rolex Daytona with leopard-print dial, or perhaps the Rocket Man’s Bentley convertible will surely entice bidders from all over the world.

Specialists from a number of Christie’s departments also gave their predictions on trends and artists to watch this year.

According to the latest Christie’s magazine story, while NFT values have come down after peaking in 2022, Sebastian Sanchez, Christie’s Manager of Digital Art Sales, is no less excited about the creativity that continues in the space. Artists to watch in 2024 include Sasha Stiles, creator of the Cursive Binary series; Yatreda, a family art collective celebrating Ethiopian history through Web3; and Lim Wenhui, aka Niceaunties, a Singapore-based artist whose AI-generated images depict “auntie culture” in an alternate reality.

Jewelry, watches and handbag sales will continue to be led by the established houses: Tiffany, Cartier, Harry Winston,Patek Philippe, Rolex, and of course Hermes. Mei Giam, Director of Jewellery Private Sales at Christie’s in London, says colored diamonds and stones will be highly desired at auction this year. Alexandre Gouverneyre, Head of Watches in Geneva, notes that “special shaped-watches from the 60s and 70s made in collaboration with highly-skilled jewelers / designers (Gilbert Albert, Georges Lenfant, Andrew Grima, Charles de Temple, John Donald) will be more and more sought-after.” And Rachel Koffsky, Senior Vice President, International Head of Handbags and Accessories, says collectors are on the hunt for extreme rarities, including unusual materials and sizes and limited and runway editions. Red will be a popular color for handbags in 2024, she says.

Whether in art, wine, watches or furniture, the one constant theme is quality.

“Collectors are looking for the best quality works within their collecting category. If it’s an A+ example, it will soar at auction,” says Michael Baptist, Associate Vice President in Post-War and Contemporary Art.  Baptist also advises that, “There’s no better way to learn about auctions than by participating in them.”

For information on Christie’s services as well as upcoming auctions and sales, visit www.christies.com.