The Wall Street Journal has a story on where to sell your work of art. The story tries to make the point that selling at auction only benefits those with works that have a visible price momentum for similar works. That’s true enough. But running along with the story is a chart of Christie’s and Sotheby’s private sales over the last decade. It certainly isn’t news that private sales have been on the rise. Both auction houses built their post-credit crisis strategies around increasing private sales among their clients.
Christie’s has just opened a new set of galleries and viewing rooms for private transactions on the ground floor of its Rockefeller Center sale rooms. That’s expensive real estate which shows the power of private transactions for the firm. Herewith another demonstration as we can see Christie’s come from behind in the private treaty sale space to match or lead Sotheby’s.
Perhaps of greater interest is the column running next to the sale totals in the Journal’s chart. It shows the increasing percentage of sales that private transactions represent. There Sotheby’s is approaching one-fifth of its revenue: