July 14, 2023
JAKARTA – Collectors from Asia contributed most to purchases at luxury auctions in the first half of the year, British auction house Christie’s told a press briefing on Wednesday.
The region also contributed the lion’s share of 38 percent to the global luxury auction market, it said, followed by Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at 34 percent and the Americas making up the remaining 28 percent.
Christie’s luxury goods auction includes jewelry, timepieces and vintage clothing, with sales totaling US$590 million in the first six months of 2023.
In terms of global sales from auctions and private purchases during the same period, however, share from Asia-Pacific buyers contributed just 26 percent of $3.2 billion in total purchases, falling behind buyers from the Americas at 39 percent and from EMEA at 35 percent.
Meanwhile, overall global sales fell 23 percent compared to the first half of 2022, according to the auction house.
It said spending among Asian consumers, particularly on jewelry in Hong Kong, was crucial in regaining market confidence. The 15.81-carat diamond called “The Sakura”, for instance, brought in close to $30 million in Hong Kong.
“Asian buying in the Classic/Western art cluster has been up to 20 percent, from previously between 5 and 6 percent,” Francis Belin, the president of Christie’s Asia Pacific, told reporters on Wednesday.
Belin added that the company’s Asian sales were influenced by the region’s developing economies, which Christie’s was supporting through a strategy to attract local buyers.
“We engage with them by curating the right sale, presenting the right object, and using the right medium and digital innovation for communication,” he said.
Evelyn, deputy chairman and cohead of the 20th and 21st century art department at Christie’s Asia Pacific, said at Wednesday’s briefing that mid-tier buyers in the region were still fairly strong, offsetting a decrease in top-tier buyers.
Aside from the biggest names in contemporary art, the auction house said its Asia-Pacific clients had different interests, including collecting pieces from many genres of Asian and Western art of all periods across classic, modern and contemporary art.
These included the works of Chinese-French painters Zao Wou-Ki (1921-2013) and Sanyu (Chang Yu, 1895-1966), both of which sold out at Christie’s Hong Kong Spring Auctions 2023.
Christie’s also recorded a 11 percent annual increase in new buyers during the first half of the year, with millennials or members of younger generations comprising 38 percent of all new buyers.
Of its millennial buyers, almost 60 percent came from the Asia-Pacific, making the region a significant driver of growth in millennial collectors at its auctions.
Nearly 80 percent of bids at all Christie’s auctions in the first half of 2023 were submitted online, almost double the figure of 45 percent in 2019, before the global pandemic.