* Sales in 2013 up 16 percent to £4.54 bln ($7.13 bln)
* New buyers were a third of total
By Julia Fioretti
LONDON, Jan 22 Christie's art sales surged to a
record high of £4.54 billion ($7.13 billion) in 2013 as new
buyers and rising Asian demand contributed to a buoyant art
market in a fragile global economy.
Sales at the London-based auction house rose 16 percent from
2012, Christie's said on Wednesday, helped by a push to attract
Asian art collectors that included the company's first auctions
in China and India in 2013.
Traditional markets in Europe accounted for 54 percent of
last year's buyers with another 30 percent from the Americas.
Asia's share was almost 16 percent and Chinese buyers increased
their art spending by 63 percent on 2012.
"Over the next three years you'll see even more significant
growth from China, India, Russia and the Middle East as we
engage more clients," said Jussi Pylkkanen, President of
Years of booming commodity prices and a liquidity glut have
led to the rise of a class of super-wealthy collectors from
Asia, the Middle East and Russia.
In a sign of strong prices, Christie's New York sale of
Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" for $142.4
million in November made it the most expensive piece of art ever
Overall, a third of the buyers in 2013 were new to
Christie's and accounted for over a fifth of global sales.
Private sales were also a strong driver of growth, rising 20
percent to £760.5 million.
Christie's had tiny online sales of £13.2 million, of which
the most expensive item was an original Apple computer, known as
Apple-1, which sold for almost $400,000.
"Our strategy to invest in new markets such as China, new
channels such as private sales and online sales, and to build on
our position at the leading auction house, has enabled
Christie's to grow," Chief Executive Steven Murphy said.
Soaring art prices at a time of economic uncertainty have
stoked fears of an art bubble. But sales have remained healthy
thanks to a broader range of international buyers helping
support the key British and U.S. markets.
Rival auction house Sotheby's said on Wednesday its
sales grew by almost 20 percent last year, making it the fastest
growing art auctioneer in 2013 and underscoring a burgeoning art
Sotheby's will release 2013 results at the end of February.
Pylkkanen predicted that new buyers would continue to flock
to the art market, downplaying suggestions that economic
uncertainties and an impending end to easy money from the
world's central banks could dent demand.
"You've seen a huge expansion of collectors and institutions
who are prepared to compete at the top level," he said.