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Sotheby’s sells $7.3 billion worth of artwork, fueled by millennials with money

One of the world’s top auction houses has been behind this pandemic, thanks largely to millennials, who have splurged on everything from designer watches to designer watches. digital artwork.

After a double-digit loss two years ago, Sotheby’s on Wednesday said it has sold $7.3 billion in artwork in 2021, a new high for the 277-year-old company. That number drops to $6 billion in auction revenue in 2021, up 71% year-over-year, and $1.3 billion in brokerage private art sales, up nearly a third year-over-year. .

Rivals Christie’s and Phillips said they plan to release their year-end sales figures later this week or early next year.

Sotheby’s CEO Charles Stewart said 44 per cent of this year’s auctioneer’s auction entries were first-time auctioneers, including younger collectors starting to buy far-flung items. slags like handbags, jewelry and alcohol online during the pandemic. They stuck around after the house began to gradually conduct more direct sales this year, lifting Sotheby’s luxury sales to more than $1 billion. It was the first time any luxury category passed that mark at the house.

Mr. Stewart said: “Young collectors are playing at a level we have never seen before. “Luxury has become their go-to destination for significantly more revenue.”

In a significant move, millennials have begun turning to a range of collectible categories including rare books, antiquities and vintage cars, he said. This shift marks a departure from past market cycles, where new bidders tended to focus primarily on contemporary art while largely ignoring less trendy categories.

The home’s $4.3 billion sales of contemporary and modern art still represent a new high for the home, but prices have skyrocketed across the board for objects of interest. youthful, from a $9.6 million Patek Philippe wristwatch to a $1.5 million Michael Jordan sneakers in the last year.

Overall, the home sold 57 pieces valued at over $15 million, with a Botticelli portrait worth $92.2 million ranked as the best-selling product of the year.

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Sandro Botticelli ‘Young man holding a round ball’


Photo:

Sotheby’s

Sales of books and manuscripts also surged (see $43.2 million copies of the US Constitution) and Latin American art (that $35 million Frida Kahlo). The house was auctioned off by former owners for $242 million, the highest total value since 2011.

Like the rest of the art world, Sotheby’s is also hustling this year to make way for a mainstream emergence of digital art. They invited tech-savvy bidders to pay for art in crypto for the first time, and bid directly for a few pieces this fall in ether, a cryptocurrency on the blockchain. Ethereum. The house says it sold nearly $100 million in NFTs, or blockchain-unusable tokens that are often attached to images that only exist online. Sotheby’s sold the source code to the World Wide Web as an NFT for $5.4 million.

Mr. Stewart said: “The market is clearly very strong, but collectors feel it is smart to focus on art.

Sotheby’s owner, French telecom magnate Patrick Drahi, may be considering an initial public auction two years after he bought Sotheby’s and went private, according to a Bloomberg report. on Wednesday. The report cites anonymous potential advisors. Sotheby’s, contacted later, declined to comment.

Write letter for Kelly Crow at kelly.crow@wsj.com

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Coming out December 16, 2021, print edition as ‘Millennials make money driving the art market.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sothebys-sells-7-3-billion-in-art-fueled-by-moneyed-millennials-11639581146?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f Sotheby’s sells $7.3 billion worth of artwork, fueled by millennials with money

Ian Walker

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