Christie's bullish on art sales, report sees risks

Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:04am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Christie's sold art worth 2.0 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) in the first half of the year, up 15 percent on the same period in 2011, and a leading executive said on Thursday that full-year results should break the 2010 record.

The world's biggest art business, owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault, posted sales of 3.3 billion pounds in 2010, a leap of 53 percent on 2009 when the global financial crisis saw wealthy buyers retreat.

"There is a good chance of breaking that record this year," said Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie's Europe.

"Every indicator in the art market tells us that there is the appetite to buy and sell at Christie's. It must give us a very, very good chance," he told Reuters in an interview. He declined to give a more precise forecast.

A leading art analyst warned, however, that growing economic uncertainty, particularly surrounding the European debt crisis, could act as a brake on a market that is approaching record prices in several sectors.

ArtTactic published a U.S. and European contemporary art market survey on Thursday which showed that, despite a rise in confidence of 8.3 percent in the first half of 2011 its barometer of risk had also risen 12.6 percent.

"There are strong similarities between today's situation and the situation that faced the art market in 2007 and 2008," said the survey, recalling the strong divergence then between its art market and economic indicators.

The art market took a delayed, but significant hit from the banking crisis, but has recovered steadily since.   Continued...

<p>A Christie's employee poses with artist Claude Monet's "Les Peupliers" at Christie's auction house in London April 15, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>