Great Expectations: Why Sotheby’s Is More Successful Than Christie’s Automatic translate
Sotheby’s staged the most expensive auction in its history, earning on November 4 more than $ 422 million in the sale of works by impressionists and contemporary art. Against this background, the result of recent trading of their main competitor - Christie’s auction house - 165.6 million US dollars, looks more than modest. And this is despite the fact that in recent years Christie’s has shown steady growth in its turnover in the post-war art market.
This season, two auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s earned 587.7 million US dollars at the auction of contemporary art in New York. In November 2011, this amount amounted to $ 340.6 million, in the fall of 2012 - $ 367.8 million, and 12 months ago - $ 434.5 million. According to our estimates, the average bid price since 2006 was about $ 211 million. And that’s just over three hours of work!
An analysis of the trades shows that Sotheby’s “outperformed” its competitor in the market of impressionists and modernists in 6 of the last 8 sessions in New York. At the same time, in the post-war and contemporary art sector, in 6 out of 8 cases, the championship remained at Christie’s.
Some dealers explain Sotheby’s so high market share with the professionalism of their employees and the fact that Christie’s’s staff turnover is much higher. However, the truth is that the two houses have very different work strategies. Sotheby’s are focused on representing the maximum number of lots. For example, at the last session 73 lots were presented - the maximum offer since May 2012. At the same time, 15 lots remained unsold, i.e. sales are 79.4%. On the other hand, Christie’s put up only 39 lots, and the sales level was 90%.
The most interesting thing is that 73% of the auction at Sotheby’s accounted for the ten most expensive works, including a still life of Vincent Van Gogh and rare sculptures by Giacometti and Modigliani. The remaining 63 lots in value did not exceed $ 100 million. However, many lots are announced only on the day of sales. According to experts, this tactic helps to attract wide attention to the auction itself, even for those people who do not follow auctions and are not particularly versed in art.
When asked about various house strategies, Brooke Lamplie, head of the Impressionist and Contemporary Art department at Christie’s, hinted at some “optimistic” estimates of the cost of some of the work by Sotheby’s experts. “I’m not interested in providing works that will not be sold at the price we offer,” she said, adding that the market will not suffer from this, but some prices for some art objects are really overpriced.
Anna Sidorova © Gallerix.ru
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