Christie's auction house sells a record-breaking $1 billion worth of art in three days

Sales include Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger and Giacometti's Pointing Man

Jack Shepherd@JackJShepherd
Thursday 14 May 2015 12:00

Christie’s in New York has been known to make ridiculous amounts of money, but never quite like this. In just three days they have sold in access of $1 billion worth of art, and in the process broken numerous world records.

On Monday, the auction house set the record for most expensive painting, with Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version O) selling for $179 million. In the same auction, Giacometti’s Pointing Man became the most valuable sculpture ever, fetching $141 million.

In that day alone, the overall amount of money exceeded $705.9 million, and was followed on Wednesday by a contemporary art sale that made a further $658 million. That's an incredible $1.3 billion being exchanged in just two sales.

“It’s a spectacle of excess at the highest level,” art consultants Abigail Asher told New York Times. “The last few years have been building up to this moment. A new class of buyer has entered the market and they’re prepared to pay staggering sums for trophy pictures.”

The profits also represent the widening gap between Christie’s and rival Southeby’s. Earlier in the week Southeby’s sold $379 million worth of American-orientated contemporary pieces, and last week sold $368 million in what they called the second highest modern Impressionist sale in history.

Never before have such huge sums of money been spent at auction on art, perhaps a sign of the times considering income inequality is widening and food banks are busier than ever.

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