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Christie's auctioneer posts record sales in 2010
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 27 - 01 - 2011

The world's largest auction house Christie's posted record annual sales of 3.3 billion pounds ($5 billion) in 2010, a jump of 53 percent on 2009, underlining the strength of the recovery in the fine art market, according to Reuters.
Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie's Europe, said the strength was sustainable and that there was room for further growth given the number of new clients bidding with the company.
He added that Christie's would focus its efforts over the next five years on expanding its online presence and on developing a new client base in mainland China.
The number of new clients who registered for a sale last year rose 23 percent on 2009, and the number of people who went on to buy an item increased 13 percent.
"It's that rise of new registrants which really for me signals both sustainability and actually further potential growth," he told Reuters in an interview.
"This new influx of buyers ... continues to grow, and that really is the vital piece for me," he added. "I am very comfortable that it is sustainable."
Prices in several sectors soared and records tumbled last year, making up for steep losses triggered by the global economic crisis. New collectors and investors from China were one of the main factors behind the rebound.
Christie's main rival Sotheby's also enjoyed bumper sales, with its auction total, not including private sales, hitting $4.3 billion in 2010 compared with $2.3 billion in 2009.
The company, which is listed and has yet to announce its full year figures for 2010, called the performance "outstanding".
Last year, Christie's set a new auction record for a single work of art when Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust" fetched $106.5 million in New York in May.
It was just enough to surpass the $104.3 million set by Sotheby's a few months earlier in London for a statue by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
Astronomic prices were fetched outside the auctioneering mainstream, most notably when Bainbridge's in England sold a Chinese vase discovered during a routine house clearance for 43 million pounds.
The following month, Bonhams, a major auction house, sold a blue-and-white Chinese porcelain dragon jar for $7.7 million, more than 600 times its estimate.
Christie's said 28 percent of its clients now bid for items online via its LIVE platform, a five percent increase on 2009.
Online bidding would be one of two major areas of expansion over the coming five years, according to Pylkkanen, because it opened up the art world to people other than the super-rich.
"It really isn't just about selling a picture by Picasso for $50 million," he said.
"It is much more about a broader range of clients, a broader offering. That will provide us with tremendous strength and also great growth opportunity in the next five years. Online is absolutely vital."
Another potential area of growth was mainland China. Christie's Asian art sales realised 570 million pounds in 2010, an increase of 115 percent year-on-year.
"A lot of our efforts over the next five years will be in ... developing a platform and the relationships that allows buyers in mainland China to buy in all of our auctions globally," said Pylkkanen.

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