Christie’s Ends 2021 with $7.1 Billion in Sales

New buyers make up a third of the clients and a third of those are Millennials

The headline numbers for Christie’s in 2021 were very impressive indeed, but the most interesting metrics for the art market come deeper down in the auction house’s $7.1 billion results. Half way through 2021, it was clear that the art market was going to have a very strong year. As Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti pointed out in his press call for the year’s results, the pandemic has paradoxically been very good for Christie’s clients, especially those in Asia. Now that the year is over, there’s no doubt about how 2021 stacks up as the best year in auction house history.

Christie’s $7.1 billion total was 54% rise over 2020 and a 22% improvement on the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Live auctions accounted for $5.4 billion of the auction house’s sales. Private sales at Christie’s reached an all-time high of $1.7 billion.

Adrien Meyer, head of Christie’s private sales, attributed the record number—which was more than double the 2019 results for private sales—to a number of factors. Chief among those factors was that buyers accustomed to bidding at auction were introduced to private sales by necessity during the occluded sales of 2020. Private sales blew up for Christie’s in 2020 but have grown another 12% this year. 

Luxury sales, which were up 153% from last year to almost $1 billion, also contributed to the surge in private sales. Most of all, Meyer cited the 400-strong team of global “transactors” as the significant factor in the private sales growth—along with the macroeconomic advantages that had increased demand. 

Christie’s released figures showing that although the Americas and Europe & the Middle East still account for 69% of sales, Asia is now a full 31 % of the volume. That’s for the entire year. In the first half of 2021, Asian buyers were up to an astonishing 39% of Christie’s auction sales.  The global art auction market is now truly global. 

A few other important statistics from 2021 were released by the firm. New buyers at Christie’s accounted for 35% of buyers. Close to two-thirds of that group came through online sales. Of the new buyers, nearly a third are under the age of 40. The largest supply of new clients is the Luxury category. 

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