Auctioneer Georgina Hilton selling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile) for $67.11m (incl. buyer’s premium) at Christie’s New York on May 15, 2023. The painting was consigned in Europe and sold in the US.

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The firm said if the stand-out single owner sale from the Paul Allen collection in 2022 is stripped out of the comparison, the figure would have been down 7% (in US dollar terms).

The 2023 figure is also 7% higher than its pre-pandemic sales in 2019.

Total preliminary sales* across the business (including auctions, private sales and other revenue) reached $6.2bn in 2023, down 25% on the previous year.

Christie’s chief executive Guillaume Cerutti said: “2023 has been a paradoxical year. A challenging macro-environment and the art market contraction explain our lower auction totals compared to the record sales of the previous year.…. One huge collection can make a big difference…. When you look at the history of the art market, there are fluctuations every year.”

He said that looking at the past 10-15 years overall, the art market as a whole has not grown hugely. For instance between 2010 and 2023 the global art market sales have ranged from $57bn to $68bn** annually. Cerutti said as Christie’s does not “manufacture its own products” it is reliant on the flow of consignments. For instance, The Paul Allen sale of 2022 contributed $1.62bn (£1.42bn) last year.

Ben Gore, chief operating officer at Christie's, spoke about the economic headwinds that impacted the year and said Christie's is not focused on managing its market share or worrying about newspaper headlines. For instance, he said if it had taken on the consignment of the Emily Fisher Landau Collection that Sotheby's won, its results would have been flat year on year (the evening sale of the Landau collection alone raised $406.4m (£330.4m) including fees for Sotheby's.) 


Despite the sales slump in 2023, Cerutti was optimistic. He said private sales were up and its luxury category had its best ever year.

He added: “We saw an increase in private sales and a strong influx of new and younger clients at auction. We have been continuing our judicious investments in innovation and expansion. We are confident for the future, with a promising pipeline of consignments already in motion for 2024.”

Cerutti said the highlights at the firm included the growth of luxury sales, strong buying in Asia and the growth of new buyers through digital platforms.

He said private sales were also resilient, now representing 20% of total sales (previously 14%). Among its private sales was one made in the UK when the Portrait of Omai sold jointly to the Getty Museum and National Portrait Gallery for £50m.


The luxury sector remains its number one entry category for new buyers and new buyers represented 35% of its total clients in 2023.

Christie’s online-only sales accounted for 66% of all Christie’s new buyers with a 33% growth in new bidders.

For Asia, where the firm will move to a new headquarters in Hong Kong next year, the number of new buyers in terms of global sales from mainland China was up 30%.

Cerutti also highlighted other growth areas such as its Christie’s Art Finance and Christie’s Ventures businesses.

The UK recorded sales of $826m (£668m) for 2023 and among the highlights was the sale of a rediscovered painting by Michael Sweerts (1618-64). The Artist’s Studio with a Seamstress took a record £10.7m.

Looking forward to 2024 Christie’s noted the continuing macro-economic headwinds but said consignors were becoming more realistic in terms of estimates, guided by Christie’s specialists. It said it had a strong pipeline of consignments for 2024, noting that many of its consignments are estate sales, with items being sold for tax and inheritance reasons and not necessarily impacted by global economic woes.

*Christie's sales figures for 2023 are put together just ahead of the close of the year and are preliminary results. Christie’s does not publish its profits.

**According to the 2023 Art Market Report by Art Basel and UBS by Arts Economics.

Christie’s 2023 In Numbers

Total sales (fine art and luxury): $6.2bn (£5.03bn) down 25% on 2022

Auction sales: $5bn (£4.06bn)

Private sales: $1.2bn (£971m)

Online sales: $369m (£299m)

Contracted: 25% down

Luxury sales: $1bn (up 53%)

US sales: $2.57bn

Europe (EMEA) sales: $1.65bn

Asia sales: $805m

Growth in new bidders: 33%

Sell through rate for all lots: 84%

Total hammer sales at 105% of low estimates