Christie’s is famous for its auctions of fine arts, paintings, oriental works and of course jewelry.
Christie’s was founded by James Christie in London in 1766 so is almost 250 years old. Almost as old as Sotheby’s which was founded in 1744.
Mostly they deal in fine arts, paintings, statues and entered the jewellery market when they opened their first salesroom in Geneva in the 1950s.
Christie’s has around 450 auctions each year in all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and much more.
Prices at auction can range from as low as $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s is also known for conducting private sales for its clients.
Christie’s is currently the world’s largest art sales business and fine arts auction house beating even Sotheby’s with sales in 2012 approaching some 3.5 billion dollars.
Christie’s is based in King Street, London but also has a Major office in the Rockefeller Plaza in New York. It is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of François-Henri Pinault who bought the company in In May 1998 for 1.2 Billion dollars.
Christie’s was a public company and has been listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1973 to 1999 when it then went private.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s have always had a healthy competitive spirit and in 1996, Christie’s sales overtook Sotheby’s for the first time since 1954.Despite this its profits did not grow at the same rate as Sotheby’s and from 1993 through 1997, Christie’s annual pretax profits were around $60 million, as distinct to Sotheby’s of about $265 million.
Currently Christie’s has 53 offices in over 30 counties and 12 salesrooms in Amsterdam, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Milan, Mumbai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Zurich. There are also expansions in new markets being initiated including China, India, Russia and ther United Arab Emirates.
Christie’s charges 25 percent for the first $75,000; 20 percent on the next $75,000 to 1.5 billion and 12 percent thereafter.
According to Wikipedia, Christie’s has been increasingly involved in high-profile private transactions. For example.
“In 2006, Christie’s offered a reported $21 million guarantee to the Donald Judd Foundation and displayed the artist’s works for five weeks in an exhibition that later won a AICA award for “Best Installation in an Alternative Space”. In 2007 the auction house brokered a $68 million deal that transferred Thomas Eakins’s The Gross Clinic (1875) from the Jefferson Medical College at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to joint ownership by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts…”
From 2012, “Impressionist works, which dominated the market during the 1980s boom, have been replaced by contemporary art as Christie’s top category. Asian art was the third most-lucrative area. With income from classic auctioneering falling, treaty sales made £413.4 million ($665 million) in the first half of 2012, an increase of 53% on the same period last year; they now represent more than 18% of turnover.”
Notable and of interest is the price fixing scandal of 2000 when allegations arise of a price-fixing arrangement between Christie’s and Sotheby’s, another major auction house. Christie’s was able to gain immunity from prosecution in the US when an employee of Christie’s confessed and cooperated with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Some of the Sotheby’s senior management were subsequently sacked A. Alfred Taubman, the largest shareholder of Sotheby’s at the time, accepting most of the responsibility. Both he and Dede Brooks (the then CEO) went to prison and both Christie’s and Sotheby’s paid a civil lawsuit settlement of $512 million.
Christies has a website where you can open an account and place bids for items up for sale or auction. The website clearly explains how to buy and sell through Christie’s auctions