Christie's has announced record first-half art sales for the beginning of 2012, with impressive earnings attributed to a growing global client base who are increasingly turning to alternative investments.
The auction house has seen a rise of 13% in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2011, reporting sales of £2.2bn and providing further evidence of a buoyant high-end market. Bidders from 124 countries have contributed to the success, with 19% of all bids placed by new clients.
The old masters and 19th century art sector showed the biggest leap, rising 50% to £72m. This supports recent research from the Mei Moses Index, which showed that the value of works in the category has risen by 5.4% so far in 2012. The most notable sale from the recent run of old masters sales goes to John Constable's The Lock, which sold for a world record £22.4m ($35.2m) on July 3 at Christie's London showroom.
However, Christie's top lot of 2012 is currently held by Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow, which soared 93.1% past estimate to sell for $89.6m - the highest price ever achieved for contemporary art at auction. The post-war and contemporary art sector rose 34% to £576m, with works from Yves Klein further boosting the figures.
But it is not just the top-end art market that is currently enjoying prosperity. Christie's also reported that its South Kensington showroom - which is typically where mid-range works are offered - has seen a rise of 23% to £73m.
"The first six months of the year have demonstrated a healthy market that responds to great art and intelligent pricing," commented Christie's chief executive officer Steven Murphy.
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