Sotheby’s Out Sells Christie’s Recording A Bumper £7.9B 2023

Sotheby’s auction house revealed its 2023 sales figures today, nearly matching its record-breaking $8 billion reported in 2022. Despite facing market challenges, Sotheby’s consolidated sales totalled $7.9 billion for the year, showcasing resilience amidst economic headwinds and a slower art market.

Although overall auction sales experienced a slight decline, private sales saw an uptick, contributing to the impressive total. While the firm no longer discloses profits and losses after going private under investor Patrick Drahi in 2019, the numbers reflect Sotheby’s continued significance in art.

Auction sales, amounting to $6.5 billion, witnessed a modest dip from the previous year, with luxury auctions emerging as a notable highlight, reaching $2.2 billion, a 4 per cent increase. Private sales, on the other hand, rose to $1.2 billion, showcasing sustained demand in this segment.

Sotheby’s CEO, Charles Stewart, lauded the company’s performance in navigating the challenging market, attributing the activity to increased generational wealth transfer and healthy auction sell-through rates.

2023 marked a landmark year for Sotheby’s in single-owner auctions, with 143 such events generating $1.3 billion in sales, a substantial 24 per cent surge from 2022. Notable collections, including those of Emily Fisher Landau, Mo Ostin, Clara Schreyer, and Long Museum owners Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, contributed to this success.

Highlighting the top lots of the year, Pablo Picasso’s Femme à la montre fetched $139.4 million, Gustav Klimt’s Dame mit Fächer sold for $108.5 million, and a rare 1962 Ferrari 330 LM / 250 GTO by Scaglietti set a new record as the most valuable Ferrari ever sold at auction, commanding $51.7 million.

Sotheby plans to unveil a 24,000-square-foot “Maison” in Hong Kong’s Central district and establish a new branch in Paris. Additionally, the iconic Breuer building in Manhattan, acquired from the Whitney Museum, will become Sotheby’s new home next year as the current tenant, the Frick Collection, prepares to move out.

In contrast, rival Christie’s reported total sales of $6.2 billion for 2023, down from its record $8.4 billion in 2022, reflecting a year characterised by complexity, as stated by CEO Guillaume Cerutti during a recent conference call.

Top Photo: Helena Newman auctioneering Gustav Klimt’s Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan), 1907–08. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

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