Scott Reyburn reports on Bloomberg that Christie’s sales volume only dropped by 24% in 2009 to £2.1 billion ($3.4b.) Contemporary art fell the most by 59%. With sales off less than most–including the auction house–there were some surprises in the statistics:
Private bidders, especially from Asia, have been boosting success rates even as totals decline. Average selling rates by lot at auctions increased 5 per cent to 80 percent in 2009, said the company.
The sell-through rate is a measure of the house’s ability to manage risk and expectations. But those numbers were surely also helped by the YSL sale’s extraordinary sell-through. That’s not the only effect the YSL sale had. Reyburn spoke to Christie’s CEO Ed Dolman:
“It showed us the reality of the new masterpiece market,” he said. “People are looking for exceptional objects, and they’re looking for the same things. Most of the top lots went to Middle Eastern and Russian buyers, underbid by Asian clients. Our new clientele was in place.” Saint Laurent contributed six out of the 10 most expensive items sold by Christie’s in 2009.