Christie’s Top 10 results in Q1

[03 May 2019]

In Artprice’s fortnightly series of auction rankings identifying the Art Market’s primary trends, this week’s Friday Top looks at Christie’s best results in the first quarter of 2019.

The world’s most powerful art auctioneer (with a global turnover of nearly $5 billion from Fine Art in 2018) just keeps on generating extraordinary results. Two years ago it hammered the highest price ever publicly paid for an artwork when “the last Leonardo da Vinci”, Salvator Mundi, fetched over $450 million.

Specialist on the ultra high-end market, Christie’s top ten results in Q1 2019 are all above the million-dollar threshold and were mostly hammered at its first Modern Art sales of the year held in London on 27 February. Only the first and the last in our Top 10 ranking were hammered at its March sales. The majority of the results confirm Christie’s leadership position in the Modern & Post-War segment. The lowest result in the ranking – $5.9 million for a 1952 still life by Nicolas DE STAËL – is also six and a half times higher than the tenth best result at Phillips over the same period (see Phillips’ Top Results in Q1, 19/04/2019). At the top of the ladder, the company’s best result highlights the great British signature of the moment: David Hockney.

Christie’s focuses on David Hockney

At $49.5 million, the most dearly sold work in Q1 2019 was also the most recent of the ten: Hockney’s double-portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, completed in 1969. With collectors literally scrambling to acquire this highly desirable signature, a work of such importance guaranteed a superb result for Christie’s. Over the past three years Hockney’s work has been subject to a sharp rise in demand with an additional 164 lots sold. In 2018 his work generated an auction turnover total of $179 million including a new record of $90.3 million for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures) last November at Christie’s. Since 2015, his price index has posted a massive +220% increase to which the artist’s museum exposure has no doubt contributed: in 2017, an excellent retrospective celebrated Hockney’s 80th year attracting more than a million visitors between the Pompidou Centre (620,945 visitors from 21 June to 23 October, 2017) and the Tate Modern (478,082 visitors from 9 February to 29 May 2017) before moving to the Metropolitan Museum in New York from 21 November to 25 February 2018. The attendance rates for his retrospective suggest the British artist is as popular with the public as he is with collectors; the Tate’s “Biggest-ever retrospective” was its most-visited exhibition for a living artist and when the show moved to Paris, it became the Centre Pompidou’s second most-visited exhibition of work by a living artist.

Hockney is a now a veritable superstar of the art market with an accumulation of superlatives: the most visited in museums… the most expensive living artists (at $90.3 million)… so that nowadays, his best paintings are absolutely vital to the success of sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips… or any other auctioneer. At its upcoming sales on 15 and 16 May, Christie’s will be offering no less than seven works by David Hockney, while Bonhams has four in the catalogue for its May 7 sale. Ten days later, Sotheby’s will be offering another four works. In total, Hockney’s work could account for somewhere around $40 million at New York’s major Contemporary Art sales in May.

Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 David HOCKNEY (1937) 49,561,791 Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott 06/03/2019 Christie’s, Londres
2 Paul CÉZANNE (1839-1906) 28,198,358 Nature morte de pêches et poires 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
3 Paul SIGNAC (1863-1935) 25,934,244 Le Port au soleil couchant, Opus 236 (Saint-Tropez) 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
4 René MAGRITTE (1898-1967) 24,424,835 Le lieu commun 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
5 Gustave CAILLEBOTTE (1848-1894) 22,160,721 Chemin montant 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
6 Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919) 16,877,789 Sentier dans le bois 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
7 Claude MONET (1840-1926) 7,066,629 Au bord du fjord de Christiania 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
8 Maurice DE VLAMINCK (1876-1958) 6,311,924 Le Pont de Bezons 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
9 Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973) 6,311,924 Nature morte au crâne de taureau 27/02/2019 Christie’s, Londres
10 Nicolas DE STAËL (1914-1955) 5,947,283 Bouteilles (Bottles) 06/03/2019 Christie’s, Londres
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