On Monday, Christie’s said it had made $7.1 billion in sales of art, luxury goods, and more in 2021. That number puts the house slightly behind its competitor, Sotheby’s, which said its sales over the past 12 months had accounted for $7.3 billion.
Sotheby’s had a leg up because it auctioned the collection of divorcing New York real estate developers Harry and Linda Macklowe. In November, the Macklowe collection brought in $676.1 million. Still, Christie’s sales this year were strong, and they were buoyed by the auction of Dallas oil tycoon Edwin Cox’s rich Impressionist art holdings, which raked in $332 million.
Christie’s said its 2021 sales total was the highest one the house had seen in five years. The $7.1 billion brought in this year was 54 percent higher than 2020’s sales total, although this was to be expected, given that the pandemic had forced the house to redo its marquee sales.
At long last, in 2021, in-person sales returned in a big way. Private sales remained solid, however, even as people began to restore pre-pandemic energy to Christie’s salesrooms. Christie’s said that $1.7 billion of its total sales—nearly a quarter—came in privately.
The two most expensive works sold publicly at Christie’s were Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Therese), 1932, and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s In This Case (1983), which sold for $103.4 million and $93.1 million.
But Christie’s also helped initiate the rise of a new medium with the sale of Beeple’s NFT Everydays: The First 5000 Days (2021), which was bought in an online sale for $69 million. Since then, NFTs have become a staple in all sectors of the art world. Christie’s reported that it had sold $150 million in NFTs in 2021.
Like other auction houses, Christie’s is refocusing its attention on Asia, where a burgeoning art market in Hong Kong has spurred big sales at auction. The house said it had made $1.68 billion in sales to Asian collectors this year. In 2024, Christie’s will open a new headquarters in Hong Kong.