Christie's auctions and private sales



2015-06-26 13:36:47

Christie's auctions and private sales

Information on the world's leading art auction house, Christie's, including history and record sales

Christie's New York offices Christie's offices in New York


The world's largest art auction house, Christie's is a global leader for fine art sales. Founded circa 1766, Christie's has established an illustrious reputation and today holds over 450 auctions each year, encompassing more than 80 different collecting categories, including fine art, decorative art, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, and wine, among others.


James Christie, founder of the company, first rented auction rooms in London in 1762, though advertisements for Christie's sales have been discovered as early as 1759, making it one of the world's oldest auction houses still in operation. A catalogue from December 1766 records one of the first major auctions.

As London replaced Paris as a hub for the art industry following the French revolution, Christie's established a reputation as a leading auction house, holding some of the most renowned auctions of the 18th and 19th century.

After 1859, the company is recorded as Christie, Manson and Woods. In 1958, it expanded overseas, sending a representative to Rome and establishing an office there, before opening its first overseas saleroom in Geneva.

Christie's first auction in the US came in 1977, and by 1989, it held a 42% share of the global market. A major landmark came in 1996, when Christie's sales figures topped that of archrival Sotheby's for the first time since 1954.The auction house has consistently outsold Sotheby's since.

Management and ownership

Between 1973 and 1999, Christie's was listed on the London Stock Exchange as a public company. In 1998, French businessman and renowned art collector Francois Pinault's Groupe Artemis S.A. bought a 29.1% share in the company for $243.2m, before buying the rest of the company for $1.2m.

Former Rodale president Steven P Murphy, the first American CEO in Christie's history, was appointed in 2010.


Christie's has 85 offices in 43 countries, including London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam, Moscow, Hong Kong, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo, and most recently, Beijing.

Notable sales

Bugatti Royale - 5.5m ($9.1m), 1987World record for any car sold at auction.

Marilyn Monroe "Happy Birthday Mr President" dress - $1.2m, 1999 World record for an article of clothing.

Pablo Picasso Nude, Green Leaves and Bust - $106.5m, 2010World record for a Picasso at auction.

Spyridon Louis Olympic medal - 541,250 ($860,000), 2012 World record for Olympic memorabilia.

George Washington annotated Acts of Congress book - $9.8m, 2012 World record for any document sold at auction.

The Stephen S Palmer Patek Philippe Grand Complication - $2.2m, 2013 World record for a Patek Philippe Grand Complication.

Francis Bacon Three Studies of Lucian Freud - $142.4m, 2013 World record for any artwork sold at auction

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