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Christie’s Paris Leads French Auction Sales

In the first published reports of end-of-the-year results for sales by the various French auction houses, the positions remained unchanged from those in 2003: Christie’s France took first place for the year 2004, with a total of €86.4 million ($108 million). François Curiel, president of Christie’s Europe, said that besides staying in first place, Christie’s

PARIS—In the first published reports of end-of-the-year results for sales by the various French auction houses, the positions remained unchanged from those in 2003: Christie’s France took first place for the year 2004, with a total of €86.4 million ($108 million). François Curiel, president of Christie’s Europe, said that besides staying in first place, Christie’s activity had increased 7.6 percent since 2003 (results that year totaled €80.3 million).

This amount included €72.8 million ($90 million) for artworks, as well as €12.62 million ($16 million) for collector automobiles and €968,231 ($1.2 million) for wine.

During the past year Christie’s Paris achieved more than two-dozen record-breaking sales of works including the bas-relief Musiciens et antilopes, 1914, by Leon Indenbaum, which fetched €3.63 million ($4.5 million); and La Cantina, 1941, a painting by José Clemente Orozco, which brought €814,650 ($1 million).

Étude Tajan, until last year the most successful auction house in Paris, was second, with a total of €64.7 million, or $80 million (a figure that includes sales in Geneva and Monte Carlo, as well as wines and jewels).

This result represents a 5 percent decrease for Tajan in relation to 2003—nonetheless it remains outstanding, thanks in large part to the sale in tribute to Julien Levy, held the first week of October 2004, which brought in €7.8 million, or more than $9 million (see ANL, 10/26/04).

Although in third position, Sotheby’s France showed a dynamic increase in business, totaling sales of €52.82 million, or $66 million (no wine or cars), with a healthy growth of 35 percent since 2003. For Sotheby’s, again, the sale of important collections was crucial to this leap—collections such as that of former Paris dealers Marianne and Pierre Nahon (contemporary works, Art Deco, books and primitive art), as well as other important contemporary and modern collections.

Artcurial (Briest, Poulain, Le Fur), in fourth position, ended up with a substantial decrease, however, with total sales of €41.6 million ($52 million) this year—compared with €60.4 million last year and a decrease of 15 percent in modern art (their totals also include collectors’ cars). They too had profited nonetheless from the important recent sale of the archives of the Filipacchi group, which totaled €300,000 ($375,000). Following was PIASA (Picard, Audap, Solanet, Velliet, Teissedre) with a total of €39.31 million, or $49 million (artworks only).

Hôtel Drouot, an umbrella for some 70 auctioneers, which totaled €370 million ($462 million), was only slightly weaker than last year, when the annual total was €400 million, thanks to the sale of important collections such as that of Andre Breton.

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