Sotheby’s report robust worldwide sales for 2017

27 December 2017 - 11:35am

Concluding their 2017 auctions for the week ending Dec 21, Sotheby’s reportedly reached annual sales totalling US$7.4 billion. The figure is said to show a 13.1% increase over the results of 2016.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong also claims to lead all international houses in Asia with an annual auction total of S$850 million. Asian clients contributed over 30% to Sotheby’s worldwide sales this year, reaching a total of US$ 1.6 billion. Online buyers have spent more than US$ 180 million, with 23% of all lots sold, purchased online.

The top lot of the year was Jean-Michael Basquiat’s Untitled from 1982. The painting had set a world record of US$ 110.5 million, the highest for the artist and any work of American art.

Other highlights include the Impressionist, Modern, and Surrealist Evening Sales in March, which achieved a combined total of US$ 240.8 million (£ 194.7 million), the highest total for any auction ever staged in London. The sales were led by Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten which sold for US$ 59.3 million (£ 48 million).

The month of April saw the auction of Andy Warhol’s Mao in Hong Kong, the print was sold for US$ 12.6 million (HK$ 98.5 million); a new auction record for any work of Western Contemporary art sold in Asia. The month of May kicked off with the inaugural sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art, results totalled at US$ 3.6 million (£2.8 million) and new auction records were achieved for 16 artists including British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE.

A press release by Sotheby’s states Ffor the first time ever in London, the month of June saw four works sold for over US$ 20 million in the Evening Sales of Impressionist and Modern Art. A new auction record was broken twice in the same evening for pioneering artist Wassily Kandinsky. First for his 1909 depiction of Murnau, and followed just six lots later by the Bild mit weissen Linien, which led the sale at US$ 41.6 million (£33 million).

Then in July, Sotheby’s London organized an auction of photographer, Mario Testino’s personal collection to benefit the Museo MATE in Lima, Peru. Parts one and two of the Shake It Up series totalled US$ 11.6 million (£ 8.7 million), establishing 11 artist auction records in the process.

Results of the October autumn auction series in Hong Kong helped raise Sotheby’s annual auction total in the region to US$ 850 million (HK$ 6.64 billion) – the highest total since 2014, and leading all international houses in Asia this year. In London, the house presented the private collection of British painter and printmaker, Howard Hodgkin. The sale brought US$ 6.8 million (£ 5.2 million), led by the work of India’s Bhupen Khakhar, whose De-Luxe Tailors soared to a record-breaking US$ 1.5 million (£ 1.1 million).

November’s auctions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary achieved US$ 724 million, representing a 31% increase over the same series in November 2016. Five of the top ten Impressionist & Modern works sold to Asian private collectors, while Francis Bacon’s tryptich portrait, Three Studies of George Dyer, led the week with its US$ 38.6 million result.

The month also saw the house’s first auction at Sotheby’s Dubai. Offering an array of paintings, sculpture, photography, design, books & manuscripts, jewellery and textiles, ‘Boundless: Dubai’ achieved a total sale of US$ 3.6 million. Sotheby’s Paris reached a highest ever total for a single-owner sale with the collection of French interior designer, Jacques Grange. The collection included works by François-Xavier Lalanne, Alexandre Noll, Damien Hirst and René Magritte. Sales achieved a total of US$ 33.3 million (€ 28.4 million).

Sotheby’s celebrated 10 years in Moscow with a series of dedicated Russian art auctions and exhibitions. The house’s press release notes the best portrait by Nikolai Fechin ever to come to auction sold for US$ 4.9 million (£ 3.7 million).

Lastly, December included the annual sales of Old Master Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture in London; highlighted by one of Joseph Wright of Derby’s most important candlelit pictures, and one of the last of his major works remaining in private hands. An Academy by Lamplight sold for US$ 9.7 million (£ 7.3 million), marking a new world auction record for the renowned British artist.


*Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.