This look at the last 12 years of Christie’s June Impressionist and Modern Evening sale performance is available to AMMpro subscribers. Subscribers get the first month free on monthly subscriptions. Feel free to cancel at any time before the month is up. Sign up for AMMpro here.
Christie’s had a stronger sale than Sotheby’s but both events showed that the market for Impressionist and Modern art may have been affected by the tidal pull of the massive Rockefeller sale which featured a full sales season’s worth of Impressionist and Modern art just a month before these auctions.
For many years, Christie’s was the weaker player in the Impressionist and Modern market with results not unlike those seen at Sotheby’s the night before. These last two June sales cycles were quite different and echo the strong years of 2010 and 2011 when Impressionist and Modern art was seen as a long-term store of value.
Last year, the top lot which was sold without a published estimate, took in £34m. This year, the two top lots, Monet’s Gare Saint-Lazare and an unsigned Picasso owned by Jaqueline Roque, account for £43m, a meaningful increase that made all the difference in bringing Christie’s Evening sale total back to levels seen earlier in the decade.
Perhaps the most significant difference in these years since the global financial crisis is the way that Christie’s managed the rest of the lots in the sale. These two charts show us the sale performance against the aggregate estimates (above) and the average estimates (below.)
In both cases, this season is the first since 2008 where the sales fell between, rather than at the bottom or below, the estimate range. This, more than the headline numbers, speaks to a significant change in how Christie’s is managing the department.