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The figure – that includes private sales of £267m ($539m) – represents a 25 per cent increase in sterling and a 36 per cent increase in dollars over 2006 sales. Last year the company sold a total of 793 works of art at auction for over $1m.

While Christie’s, as a privately owned company, do not publish full accounts, the company revealed substantial growth in a number of sectors including Post-War & Contemporary Art (up 75% to £772m), Asian Art (up 38% to £324m) and Russian Works of Art (up 88% to £71m). Sales of European Furniture decreased 5% to £121m.

In geographic terms Europe experienced sales growth of 28 per cent to £1,315m (a fraction below £1,324m sales in the USA) with turnover at King Street up 40 per cent to £927m. The South Kensington rooms were the only global saleroom not to experience a growth in sales, staying static at £80m.

July 2007 saw the first-year anniversary of Christie’s Live that has processed online sales and direct underbidding totalling £78.2m ($158m) including premium.

The online bidding service was used at 517 events in 10 venues and a substantial 11 per cent of all lots offered were either purchased or directly underbid online.

Initiatives planned for 2008 include the expansion of the retail-oriented Interiors sales in New York, London and Paris and the opening during the second half of the year of a New York gallery for Christie’s wholly-owned subsidiary Haunch of Venison in Rockefeller Center.