Christie's first-half art sales set new record at $3.5bn

Christie's has announced record first-half art sales for the beginning of 2012, with impressive earnings attributed to a growing global client base who are increasingly turning to alternative investments.

Mark Rothko Orange, Red, Yellow world record
Rothko's record breaking Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) leads sales at Christie's

The auction house has seen a rise of 13% in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2011, reporting sales of £2.2bn and providing further evidence of a buoyant high-end market. Bidders from 124 countries have contributed to the success, with 19% of all bids placed by new clients.

The old masters and 19th century art sector showed the biggest leap, rising 50% to £72m. This supports recent research from the Mei Moses Index, which showed that the value of works in the category has risen by 5.4% so far in 2012. The most notable sale from the recent run of old masters sales goes to John Constable's The Lock, which sold for a world record £22.4m ($35.2m) on July 3 at Christie's London showroom.

However, Christie's top lot of 2012 is currently held by Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow, which soared 93.1% past estimate to sell for $89.6m - the highest price ever achieved for contemporary art at auction. The post-war and contemporary art sector rose 34% to £576m, with works from Yves Klein further boosting the figures.

But it is not just the top-end art market that is currently enjoying prosperity. Christie's also reported that its South Kensington showroom - which is typically where mid-range works are offered - has seen a rise of 23% to £73m.

"The first six months of the year have demonstrated a healthy market that responds to great art and intelligent pricing," commented Christie's chief executive officer Steven Murphy.

Paul Fraser Collectibles continues to bring you the latest news on art investment. We also have a great range of investment-grade artworks currently on offer at superb prices. 


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