Now Japanese Exhibitors and Bidders can participate at the World’s Largest Auction House: Christie’s
“Christie’s Auction House” is the world’s largest auction house and deals in items ranging from works by well-known artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Van Gogh, to items related to famous historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe.
Modern and slightly surprising items are also auctioned in great numbers, alongside more traditional works. Let’s see what kind of items are being sold at the premium auction house.
The history of Christie’s
Christie’s, established in 1776 by art dealer James Christie in London, has been carrying out auctions and receiving praise from around the world for centuries. With more than 80 categories including artworks, jewellery, photographs and wine, it holds around 350 auctions every year. The price range varies from 200 dollars to 100 million dollars.
There are 10 sales rooms (auction houses) all over the world including London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zurich, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and it has expanded its business to 46 countries and regions in the world.
In recent years, successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai, demonstrate initiative in tapping into growing markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, showing that the auction house is once again leading the market (via christies.com).
From Marie Antoinette’s art collection to teddy bears
What kinds of items can be auctioned? In the past, there were auctions for works kept by Joshua Reynolds, a painter representative of 18th-century England, in his atelier, including Rembrandt van Rijn’s “Susanna and the elders”, and artworks collected by Madame du Barry (Marie Antoinette, Queen of Louis XVI, King of France).
There is also the deeply interesting story from the year 1827 when the English romantic painter Joseph Marode William Turner purchased one of his own works “Sun rising through Vapour” at a Christie’s auction for 514 pounds.
In 1972, a Chinese ceramic ware with a dragon drawn on one side was the highest-priced Asian artwork of its time, at 158.04 million Hong Kong dollars.
In 1987, Van Gogh’s “The Sunflower” was auctioned for more than 24 million dollars, making it the highest ever in auction history. Three years after that, “Portrait of Dr Gachet” was auctioned for 82.5 million dollars, again beating the record.
Even items other than typical artworks are traded at high prices, such as Western clothes that Coco Chanel worked on (price unknown) in 1978, a blue teddy bear “Elliot” priced at more than 24 million pounds in 1993, and a gold typewriter for 10.3 million dollars in 1995.
Sales for the first half of 2018 reached a record high of 4 billion dollars
Although the auction market temporarily hung low, with high-priced trades increasing in recent years, Christie’s recorded sales of a record high exceeding 4 billion dollars in the first half of 2018. Among that, sales of 835 million dollars were made from the collection of the Rockefeller family who are famous as artwork collectors. They held auctions for 2000 items in metropolises across the West and Asia, and 85,000 people from around the world attended.
At the New York auction, a total of 44 items were sold, including Picasso’s “Young Girl With a Flower Basket”, which was auctioned for 115 million dollars, Monet’s “Water Lilies in Bloom”, for 84.7 million dollars, and French painter Henri Matisse’s “Odalisque Reclining with Magnolias”, for 80.07 million dollars. (Guardian article dated 9th May 2018).
Christie’s says that sales were favourable not just from existing artwork collectors, but also new customers. With market demand increasing in the first half of 2018, sales from auctions, which are the company’s main business, totalled 3.6 billion dollars at a 28% increase, direct sales to customers made 390 million dollars, which was more than double, and online sales were at 38 million dollars, a 50% increase.
Can unexpected works be sold at unexpected prices?
Christie’s deals in works beyond those by well-known people in great numbers, but unexpected items are also traded at high prices.
A Triceratops skull was auctioned for more than 270,000 dollars in September 2013, an orange ornament made of steel called “Balloon Dog” for 58.41 million dollars in November the same year, and an “Enigma crypto machine” used during World War II sold for 435,000 dollars in December 2017.
In an auction by Sotheby’s, an auction house in line with Christie’s, a hand-drawn sketch by John Lennon called “Mrs. Wilsod Showing Her Toilets on Telly” sold for 25,000 dollars in June 2014, a pocket watch owned by US banker Henry Graves Jr. sold for 24.12 million dollars in November the same year, and a beaded bag with a motif of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup went for 1376 dollars in December 2017 (Business Insider article dated 23rd January 2018).
Exhibit and bid even from Japan
Scheduled auctions are for items such as a “snuff box (containers to put sniffing tobacco in) collection” that Chinese artist Ma Shaoxuan worked on the ornamentation for, the “Interior Collection” by Tim Brit, a New York designer specialising in 18-19th-century style. In September, online auctions of wines and watches will also be held.
It is possible to participate in Christie’s auctions from Japan. There is even a website in Japanese that one can access with relief if one is bad at English. We are also happy to note that they assess exhibited works for free. However, it is necessary for enquiries and procedures to go through offices in countries/regions other than Japan (Hong Kong, New York, London, etc.) when they are exhibited.
Procedures such as prior registration and bank introduction are essential for prospective bidders. Bids are accepted at the venue, online, over the telephone, and in writing.
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