Sotheby's revenue up 7% in 2011 thanks to Asian and modern art sales

Sotheby's revenue grew by 7% in 2011, boosted by strong sales of modern art, and art auctions in Asia.

The auction house achieved $5.8bn in sales in 2011, the best results in the company's history barring the stellar 2007 year.

The figures were helped by sales of Picasso's La Lecture in February, which achieved £25.2m, and Dali's Portrait De Paul Eluard, which realised £13.5m during the same month.

The company reached consolidated sales in Asia of over $1bn for the first time, an indication of the shift in the world's wealth.

La Lecture
Picasso's La Lecture made $40m at Sotheby's in 2011

"We have now reached the point where the three geographic engines driving our auction business - the Americas, Europe and Asia - are contributing to our success in roughly equal proportions," said the auction house's president and chief executive Bill Ruprecht.

Sotheby's enjoyable 2011 was matched by rival Christie's.

Christie's saw 22% growth in revenue of contemporary art sales in 2011.

The auctioneer sold $1.2bn in contemporary works globally last year, and a growing body of investors seeking the enjoyment and potential profits that can be enjoyed by the art market is thought to be a major contributor to the figures.

"Investors are entering the market and existing collectors are buying more," Steven Murphy, Christie's chief executive, recently told Bloomberg.

"The ease with which information and images can be accessed through the Internet is also helping create a fundamental increase in demand."

Christie's netted a total of $5.7bn last year - 9% more than in 2010.

The upward trend is great news for serious art collectors looking to make a return on their purchases.

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