Auction Houses versus Dealers The auction majors (Christie’s and Sotheby’s) hold a massive share of the art market. They have been able to dominate so much of the art market for a number of reasons, but the most prevalent reason is that they have developed relationships with many clients who purchase items at auction but who also want the option to buy and sell privately, as well. With the recent purchasing of art galleries by both major auction houses, art dealers and auction houses are increasingly more at odds with one another and art dealers feel that they are the ones on the losing end
Rising Trend: Private Art Sales via Auction Houses Auction houses, naturally, are big proponents of using the auction process to sell an art collection. However, little known to the public is the fact that auction houses also take scores of largely “six-figure” art works every year for what are called “private treaty sales,” which are more like the type of sales that an art gallery or private dealer might make. In such cases, a fixed price between the buyer and seller is negotiated, rather than one that can be bid up, and the deals are generally done under wraps and never made public. These private deals behind the curtain of the auction room are good news for collectors wishing to dispose of works, because it adds competition and gives you more options when choosing your path to market. However it isn’t good news for art dealers, who are now competing with the auction majors for these ‘private treaty sales”.
Buying Art online: A click away from a masterpiece New start-ups and established players are turning digital to sell art online. And the new development could be worth billions. At auction, the world record for a work of art sold over the internet now stands at almost $10m – for a painting by the American artist Edward Hopper. It sold at Christie’s New York, during a live sale in the auction house. While the price is not yet in the biggest league, where the $100m barrier is increasingly being smashed, it nevertheless represents a major step forward in selling art online.
The Art Market: All eyes on the Andy index Andy Warhol has been called a “one-man Dow Jones” – a barometer of the health of the whole art market. The online site Artprice reckons he produced some 400,000 works – a staggering number, and only possible because of the multiples that he did (or sometimes did not) personally oversee. In 2012, sales of Warhol totalled almost $330m at auction, according to Artprice which is one of the advantages of the auction process. It is transparent, unlike the opacity of dealer sales. However, with the increase in online sales, this is no longer true. Christie’s does not publish the results of its internet auctions such as the Warhol ones. Neither do other auction sites, such as Paddle8. This, explains Paddle8, is popular with artists and vendors: “They like it because no one knows if something remains unsold.”
Gone, in an Instant Auction Christie’s Ramps Up Online-Only Sales It’s possible to go to christie’s website right now and bid on a variety of works of art, including warhols, helmut newton photographs and even rare wines. Christies is beginning to grow it’s online market place with a new buy-it-now feature echoing eBay that offers a head-spinning variety of watches that can be snapped up instantly. Their main objective, as they put it, is to attract new clients. As the online art market grows, its no longer a question of if online art sales are feasible, its simply who is attracting clients the best.
The race to find new art collectors A quarter of all auction sales were made to first-time art buyers this year. This article provides an inside look at Sotheby’s and Christie’s global efforts to identify and recruit more art collectors. Both auction houses have teams of people who work solely on identifying potential new art collectors and categorizing them based on how much they are easily able to spend on works of art. Using the vast amount of public information available over the internet, its now almost a guarantee that if you have money, the auction majors know who you are.
Auction Houses Muscle In on Art Galleries’ Turf With the boom in the contemporary art market and the shrinking margins Christies and Sotheby’s are seeing from their auctions, the auction majors have been force to evolve. This means expanding into the art gallery space. Both galleries have purchased contemporary art galleries in order to bolster their private sales. This is a move that leaves many art galleries nervous and unhappy with the new competition
Away From the Block: Auction Houses Are Conducting More of Their Sales Privately After closing its private gallery, Haunch of Venison in 2013, Christies has focused on growing its private sales. The war of the auctioneers and the dealers over their slice of the secondary or resale market had been underway for two decades, but the Haunch move was a move into the primary market, which handles working artists and new art. Now, their vision is for the Haunch of Venison gallery to evolve into Christie’s Private Sales. A gallery that operates directly under the Christie’s name.
Christie’s latest bid to compete. Christie’s auction house debuts a private sales gallery to help it compete with Sotheby’s and dealers. After closing Haunch of Venison, a contemporary gallery purchased by the auction major in 2007, they’ve decided to open their own private gallery to continue to bolster their private art sales. Private art sales for Christie’s have grown 4% over the past 5 years. Which doesn’t bode well for contemporary art galleries who now have to compete with the billion dollar auction house.
The Art World, Blurred Not that long ago, auction houses concentrated on holding public sales and dealers put together their own shows, where the main point was to move merchandise. These days, the traditional conventions that once defined the art world seem to have evaporated. The auction giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s now run in-house art galleries and are increasingly selling art — just as a dealer would — privately. Teams of their experts are traveling the world trying to pair buyers and sellers. In order to compete, the largest galleries are opening multiple gallery spaces and hosting lavish events. However, galleries that don’t have the money to have multiple storefronts or host the large events that the auction majors and large galleries do are left by the wayside.
Private Sales Go Public: Why Christie’s and Sotheby’s Are Embracing Galleries Like Never Before Private transactions constitute an essential and increasingly profitable business segment at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In 2010 such sales accounted for 10 percent of the houses’ $10 billion in combined art sales, contributing $448.4 million to the bottom line at Sotheby’s — up from $327.8 million in 2006 — and $572.4 million at Christie’s, more than double the take four years earlier. Both firms hope to see those numbers swell and have made brick-and-mortar investments to further that goal. Both believe they’ve maxed out how many auctions they can feasibly run in a year and have made the decision to expand in the private sales marketplace, where it art dealers and galleries used to be the only contenders.
Sotheby’s Canada quit auctions to focus on private sales After 45 years, Sotheby’s are to cease holding auctions in Canada to focus instead on private sales and sourcing material for the international market. While Vancouver-based Heffel Fine Art and Joyner Waddington’s in Toronto will doubtless welcome the move, Sotheby’s stress they are not abandoning the Canadian market. Sotheby’s believes that private sales is the growth area of the art market in Canada.
China Is Wilting, Brazil Is Blooming, and Other Trends Shaping the Art Market Clare McAndrew’s unveiling of the annual TEFAF market report has become a tradition — generally giving the art world the most in-depth industry analysis it will get all year. In 2013 the report focused on the shrinking of the market (by 7 percent, to €43 billion or $56 billion) and the sharp decline in Chinese sales (the market fell by by 24 percent to €10.6 billion ($13.8 billion). However, there is plenty more detail past the executive summary providing insight on where and why the market is shrinking (and where it is growing). China’s maturing market, and the growing purchasing power of Brazilian collectors.
At Sotheby’s, Treasure Is as Treasure Does New money is pouring into the art market as never before. At a 2013 Sotheby’s sale, most of the important pieces sold well above their estimated prices demonstrating that the efforts by the auction house’s marketing department were paying off. Using the wealth of information available on the internet, they have found new art collectors who have the money to spend on expensive pieces of art.
Christie’s is Bullish on Buyers The Auction majors (Christie’s and Sotheby’s) control so much of the art market, especially the secondary resale art market, that they are able to ask exorbitant commissions from both the buyer AND the seller. These premiums have been going up steadily for a long time and they don’t look like it will stop any time soon. Both auction houses are able to ask these prices because without going through them, finding or selling rare and important pieces of art becomes extremely difficult. No matter what their commissions are, people will continue to spend money at the big auction houses.
New buyers, online sales and top-end art dominate Sotheby’s and Christie’s sales continue to grow with the advent of online technologies and new collectors that they have found. Chrisitie’s and Sotheby’s are both embracing the emerging technologies to market their auctions, grow their private sales sectors, and to embrace the online art market. With a recently announced partnership with ebay from Sotheby’s and the launching of Christie’s own online store, collectors will be more able than ever to purchase high-end art. Without ever needing to leave their home.
EBay partners with Sotheby’s to host online auction Ebay and Sotheby’s enter into a partnership with both of them looking to grow the online art auction market. In what is touted as being the first of many such partnerships between ebay and auction houses, eBay hopes to be able toe live stream auctions from a multitude of auction houses in the world. Providing a central location for all online art auctions.
Auction Houses Versus Private Sales: What Is the Future of Buying Art? Auction houses have always dabbled in the private sales market, but what the art world is seeing now is nothing short of a revolution in how art is bought and sold. Auction houses are competing with dealers for consignments on every level, from the big-ticket paintings that make headlines to less valuable objects offered for sale through online galleries and curated selling shows.