Great expectations: why Sotheby’s are more successful than Christie’s automatic translate
Sotheby’s staged the most expensive auction in their history, earning November 4 more than 422 million dollars on the sale of works of the Impressionists and contemporary art. Against this background, the result of the last auction of their main competitor, the auction house Christie’s - 165.6 million US dollars, looks more than modest. And this despite the fact that in recent years, Christie’s demonstrates a steady increase in its turnover in the postwar art market.
This season, two auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s earned at the auction of contemporary art in New York, 587.7 million US dollars. In November 2011, this amount amounted to 340.6 million dollars, in autumn 2012 - 367.8 million dollars, and 12 months ago - 434.5 million dollars. According to our calculations, the average cost of trading since 2006 was about 211 million dollars. And this is just over three hours of work!
Analysis of trades shows that in the market of impressionists and modernists Sotheby’s «outflanked» its competitor in 6 of the last eight sessions in New York. At the same time in the sector of postwar and contemporary art in 6 out of 8 cases, the championship remained behind the house of Christie’s.
Some dealers explain such a high market share of Sotheby’s professionalism of employees and the fact that the «turnover» of the staff in Christie’s is much higher. However, the truth is that two houses have very different strategies of work. Sotheby’s are focused on presenting the maximum number of lots. For example, at the last session 73 lots were submitted - the maximum offer starting in May 2012. At the same time, 15 lots were not sold, i.e. the sales level is 79.4%. On the other hand, Christie’s put up only 39 lots, and the sales level was 90%.
The most interesting thing is that 73% of the auction at Sotheby’s accounted for the ten most expensive works, including the still life of Vincent Van Gogh and the rare sculptures by Giacometti and Modigliani. The remaining 63 lots at a cost did not exceed $ 100 million. In this case, many lots are announced only on the day of sales. According to experts, such tactics help to attract widespread attention to the auctions themselves even those people who do not follow the auctions and are not particularly versed in art.
Answering the question about the various strategies of the houses, Brooke Lumpli, the head of Impressionist and contemporary art department at Christie’s, hinted at several «optimistic» estimates of the cost of some works by Sotheby’s experts. «I’m not interested in providing jobs that will not be sold at the price we offer,» she said, specifying that the market will not suffer from this, but some prices for some art objects are really overstated.
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