Christie’s Reports Provisional 2010 Sales of 3.2 Billion Pounds

Christie’s International sold a record 3.2 billion pounds ($5 billion) of art and other collectibles in 2010, according to a provisional figure released today by the London-based auction house.

The total, comprising worldwide auction and private sales, surpassed the company’s previous high of 3.1 billion pounds for 2007, said Christie’s, which is owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault. The provisional 2010 sales rose 52 percent from 2.1 billion pounds a year earlier.

Sales were boosted by star events such as the $106.5 million paid for Picasso’s 1932 painting “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” in New York in May, a record for a work of art at auction, and by surging demand in Hong Kong. On Nov. 29, a 14.23 carat pink diamond fetched HK$179.9 million ($23.2 million) at Christie’s, the most for a gem in Asia.

Rival auction house Sotheby’s has yet to release annual figures for 2010. The company totaled $4.2 billion in worldwide auction sales up to Dec. 13, according to its website. That doesn’t include private transactions or its final week of salesroom-based events.

So far, New York-based Sotheby’s top seller for 2010 has been Giacometti’s 1961 bronze, “Walking Man I,” which fetched 65 million pounds at auction in London in February.

Christie’s will release a full breakdown of its 2010 results in January. Sotheby’s “consolidated” figures for the year will be announced in late February or early March.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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