Fine Art Auctioneers: History, Services: Auction Records.

Christie's: Fine Art Auctioneers


World's Largest Auction House
Most Valuable Single Art Auction
World Record Prices Set at Christie's Auctions
Price Fixing Controversy
Auctions of Irish Art
Christies Education
Christie's Images
Art Loss Register

Adele Bloch-bauer II (1912)
By Gustav Klimt. $87.9 million (2006).
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art.

For details of the world's most
highly priced works of art, see:
Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings
Top 20 Most Expensive Paintings

For details, see:
Most Expensive Irish Paintings.

World's Largest Auction House

Christie's is the world's largest auctioneer with auction sales in excess of $5.9 billion (2013). The firm has 85 offices in 43 countries and 14 salerooms around the world including London, New York, Los Angeles, Geneva, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai and Hong Kong. Recent expansion into emerging markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, has led to successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Dubai, and Moscow.

Similar to Sotheby's, its smaller rival, the company offers art collectors access to its auctions through Christie's LIVE™, its real-time global online bidding service. See also Art News Headlines.

Established in 1766, the firm organized the great auctions of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and remains the leading global salesroom for beautiful products in many areas including fine art painting and sculpture, decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, French furniture, collectibles, rare books and illuminated manuscripts, and more. Through its hands have passed many of the world's greatest paintings - including some of the greatest modern paintings - and it holds the current record for the world's most expensive canvas sold at auction - Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) by Francis Bacon - which it sold in 2013 for a massive $142 million.


Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969)
(One panel from the Triptych).
The world's most expensive work
of art sold at auction: sold at
Christie's New York 2013.

Green Car Crash (1963). This example
of Andy Warhol's pop art was sold
by Christie's New York in 2007,
for $71.7 million.


For more about the different types,
styles and values of contemporary art,
see: Definition of Art.

For the greatest view painters, see:
Best Landcape Artists.
For the greatest still life art, see:
Best Still Life Painters.
For the greatest portraitists
see: Best Portrait Artists.
For the greatest genre-painting, see:
Best Genre Painters.
For the top allegorical painting,
see: Best History Painters.

For short introductions to the leading
auction houses in Ireland, see:

For a guide to trends,
see: Irish Art Market.


Founded in London by James Christie the Elder (1730-1803), on 5 December 1766, the firm took advantage of the city's new found status as the major centre of the international art trade following the commercial weakness of Paris in the wake of the French Revolution of 1789, and rapidly established a reputation as the premier auction house in the British capital. James Christie, the friend of many artists (such as the portraitists Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds, and the furniture maker Thomas Chippendale), set up premises in Pall Mall which rapidly became a gathering place for art collectors, dealers and other leading lights in society. In addition, the venue hosted the annual exhibitions of The London Royal Academy of Arts for 13 years until 1779. After 1803, the firm was run by James Christie the Younger (1773-1831), an expert in ancient Greek sculpture and Greek pottery. In 1823, the firm relocated to it's present London headquarters at 8, King Street, St James's Square.

Later, after the death of James Christie the Younger, his two sons, James Stirling and George Henry, joined with William Manson and his brother Edward Manson to form, Christie, Manson and Woods. Since 1778, the firm has handled the sales of many historic collections, such as: the sale of Sir Horace Warpole's Art Collection to Catherine the Great of Russia (1778); the contents of Sir Joshua Reynold's studio (1794); Madame Du Barry's jewels (1795), the Stowe House Collection (1848); the Hamilton Palace sale of paintings (1882); and the Sir George Drummond Collection (1919); In 1973, the firm went public. In 1999, it was taken into private ownership by French industrialist François Pinault.

Most Valuable Single Art Auction

Christie's is currently the world's largest auction house by revenues, and excels in the field of both modern art and contemporary art. For instance, at its May 2014 Post-War and Contemporary Art auction in New York, Christie's achieved sales of $744.9 million - the world's highest ever total for a single art auction in history.

In addition it has been responsible for numerous prestigious sales: including, the sale of the Ford Collection of Impressionist Paintings (1980); the first sale of international art in Beijing, China (1995); the famous Archimedes Palimpsest (1998), and in addition has sold personal possessions belonging to a host of famous celebrities and artists such as Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, Marilyn Monroe, and Diana Princess of Wales, to name but a few.

World Record Prices Set at Christie's Auctions

Les femmes d'Alger (1955) by Pablo Picasso was sold at Christie's in 2015 for $179m, making it the most valuable of all 20th century paintings sold at auction. Later in 2015, Modigliani's Reclining Nude ("Nu Couche") (1917-18) was sold at Christie's for $170.4m - the second highest price ever recorded.

Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) by Francis Bacon. Sold by Christie's New York, in November 2013, for $142 million - now the third most expensive work of contemporary art ever sold at auction. It is also the world's costliest example of portrait art.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) by Pablo Picasso. Sold by Christie's New York, in 2010, for $106.5 million. The second highest ever price for a work of abstract art sold at auction.

Adele Bloch-bauer II (1912) by Gustav Klimt. Sold by Christie's New York, November 2006, for $87.9 million. The world record for a work by Klimt.

Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) by Mark Rothko. Sold at Christie's New York in 2012 for $86.9 million. Still the record for Rothko. The most expensive example of abstract expressionism sold at auction.

Black Fire I (1961) by Barnett Newman. Sold at Christie's New York in 2014 for $84.2 million. The highest ever price for a work by Newman.

Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1890) by Vincent Van Gogh. Sold by Christie's New York in 1990, for $82.5 million. Still the world record for a work by Van Gogh.

Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards (1984) by Francis Bacon. Sold at Christie's New York in 2014 for $80.8 million.

Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas by Claude Monet, was auctioned by Christie's New York for $80.4 million, still the world record for a work by Monet.

Green Car Crash (1963) by Andy Warhol. Sold by Christie's New York in 2007, for $71.7 million.

Portrait de l'Artiste Sans Barbe (1889), by Vincent Van Gogh. Sold for $71.5 million at Christie's New York, in 1998. The world's most expensive self-portrait sold at auction.

Femme aux Bras Croisés (1902), by Pablo Picasso. Sold for $55 million at Christie's New York, in 2000.

Price-fixing Controversy

In 2000, allegations surfaced of price-fixing between Christie's and its deadly rival Sotheby's. Following the confession and cooperation of a senior Christie's employee, the firm was granted immunity from prosecution in the United States. However, several senior executives from Sotheby's were fired, while both Alfred Taubman, the largest shareholder of Sotheby's at the time, and CEO Diana Brooks were convicted of conspiracy.

Auctions of Irish Art

Christie's has achieved numerous record-breaking sale-prices in London and Dublin for works of Irish art by Irish artists, including:

Three Studies for a Self Portrait, by Francis Bacon.
$34,457,475 (Christie's London, 30 June 2008)

Version No 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe, by Francis Bacon.
$19.31 million (Christie's auction, New York, November 2006)

Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light, by Francis Bacon.
£8,084,500 (Christie's auction, London, October 14 2007)

Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror by Francis Bacon.
£4,936,000 (Christie's auction, London, June 23 2005)

The Whistle of a Jacket, by Jack B Yeats, was sold by Christie's London in May 2001, for £1.4 million.

The Bridge at Grez, by Sir John Lavery, was sold by Christie's London in December 1998, for £1.4 million.

Bowl, Eggs and Lemons, by William Scott. Sold at Christie's London, June 6 2008, for £1,071,650.

The Honeymoon, by Sir John Lavery. Sold at Christie's London, May 2006, £915,200.

Christie's Education

In addition to its auctioneering activities, the firm also maintains an important educational division, called Christie's Education, which runs accredited colleges in London and New York offering Masters and Undergraduated Degree courses in Early European Art (Antiquity, Middle Ages and Renaissance); Fine and Decorative Arts (15th Century to the mid-19th Century); Modern and Contemporary Art; Postmodernist Art; and the History of the Art Market, to name but a few.

Christie's Images

Christie's Images is the firm's picture library, which owns a multi-million item archive of fine and decorative art images, consisting of items auctioned in its sales rooms around the world.

Art Loss Register

In association with Bonhams (the third largest auctioneer after Sotheby's and Christie's) as well as members of the insurance industry and various art industry associations, Christie's is a shareholder in the London-based organization Art Loss Register (ALR). Founded in 1991, the ALR is the world’s largest privately-owned international database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectibles. It offers recovery and search services to private individuals, collectors, insurance companies and law enforcement agencies. Reportedly, the ALR has helped to recover over 1,000 works of art worth over $150 million.


• For more details of fine arts auction houses like Christie's, see: Homepage.

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