Top 6 auction houses and art brokers in the world

Top 6 auction houses and art brokers in the world

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Image 1 - Top 6 auction houses and art brokers in the world - Ben Heine Art Blog

In this new age of Amazon, eBay, NFT’s platforms, and other online shopping venues, one would think art brokers and auctioning parties would also move their platforms online. This is not so, art collectors and luxury seekers still visit auction houses and meet art brokers. These institutions, especially ones with international acclaim, still see record-breaking sales.

Even though art houses and art dealers open their platforms to online sale, the magic and thrill from making an in-person bid remains unmatched. Are auction houses endangered by NFT’s platforms? What characteristics make an art broker or an auction house the best? We considered sales figures, item selection, and value to narrow it down to only six auction houses. Here’s who made it onto the list.

1. Christie’s

Image 2- Christies - Image 1 - Top 6 auction houses and art brokers in the world - Ben Heine Art Blog

Christie’s is a well-known auction house boasting 85 offices in 43 countries. The South Kensington based auction house was bought by the billionaire Francois Pinault’s private holding group, Artemis, in 1988. It is reputed to be the busiest auction house in the world.
Christie’s proposes collections of artworks, real estate, jewelry, fashion items and antiques. Christie’s famously auctioned off Marilyn Monroe’s Jean Louis gown (which she wore during President Kennedy’s birthday). Christie’s celebrated its 250th birthday in 2016 and celebrated notable sales and world records. Christie’s holds the record of the most expensive canvas ever sold at an auction, Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), painted by Francis Bacon, was sold for a massive $142 000,000 in 2013. With the rise of e-commerce, Christie’s is also developing a robust online auction service.

Christie’s also has 14 salesrooms scattered across 14 megacities, including Geneva, New York, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, and Hong Kong. Besides, it is also aggressively expanding into emerging markets with representatives already stationed in India, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates and has already conducted successful sales and exhibition shows in Dubai, Moscow, and Beijing.

2. Sotheby’s

Image 3 - Auction houses - Andy Warhol’s Orange Marilyn - Sotheby’s - Ben Heine Art Blog

As the fourth oldest auction house in the world, Sotheby’s place in art auction history is unquestioned; It also holds the record the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was already in existence in 1744 and centered its activities around the trade of old books and manuscripts. Between 1778 and 1807, John Sotheby (the then director) expanded its operation to include medals, prints, antiques, and coins. In 1864, the company changed its name to Sotheby’s in honor of the last Sotheby. In 1955, Sotheby’s went international, becoming the first auction house to do this when it expanded from London to
New York. In 2012, it became the first international auction house to open its doors in China. Sotheby’s has a presence in 40 countries, conducts auctions in ten salesrooms, and sells items in over 70 different categories, including fine art, retail, diamonds, automobiles, and wine.

Notable sales include the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels sold for $50,000,000 in 1987; Andy Warhol’s Orange Marilyn sold for $17,327,500 in 1998; Clyfford Still, 1949, A-NO,1 sold for $61,700,000 in 2011; Edward Munch’s masterpiece The Scream sold for record-breaking $119,922,500 in 2012; Silver Car Crash Doubled Disaster, Andy Warhol 1963 sold for $105,000,000 (world record). Notable collections from Gianni Versace, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Greta Garbo, and David Bowie were also sold through the auction house.

Sotheby auction house has presented a growing number of online-only sales through Sotheby’s Museum Network, which was launched in response to advances in technology. Sotheby’s seems like it will continue to have a long and successful life as it acquires more businesses, prestige, and status.

3. Phillips

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Phillips is an auction house based in London and founded in 1796. It is one of the top ten auction houses worldwide. It is the ideal destination for international collectors to buy and sell the world’s most important twentieth-century and contemporary works of art, design, jewels, watches, photographs and editions. By focusing specifically on the defining aesthetic movements of the last century, Phillips became one of the most dynamic and forward-thinking auction house in the world.

The Phillips team is comprised of specialists from auction houses, museums, galleries and other leading arts institutions. In addition to conducting auctions in our New York, London, Hong Kong and Geneva salerooms, Phillips holds private sales and curated selling exhibitions around the world. They consult with museums, advise private estates and corporate clients and offer appraisals, valuations and other financial services.

Today, Phillips is a premier destination for buyers and sellers of modern, post-war, contemporary, American and Latin American works of art in addition to watches, jewels, design, photographs, works on paper and editions. In 2021, the company’s New York branch moved its headquarters to 432 Park Avenue.

4. China Guardian

Image 5 - China guardian art broker

China has massive market for fine art and collectibles and its appetite for art is continually growing. As the first auction house to focus on Chinese art and go international, China Guardian stands as the place to get the best of Chinese art. China Guardian has a wide array of art in its catalogue including: Chinese paintings, ink paintings, calligraphy, porcelain, oil paintings, furniture, and sculptures. The largest and oldest Chinese art and antique auction house debuted in the New York auction scene in 2011 and has since moved to stamp its dominance in the world’s auction space. China Guardian leads the Asian art market with operations spanning Middle East cities, including Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. In Europe, the Auction has secured its place in the London art market, while in the U.S., it continues to dominate auctions in larger cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. China Guardian made history with the sale of the Album of Mountains and Rivers by Qi Baishi, coming in at $6 million. There was also the notable sale of a rare faille-rose vase of “eight immortals” crossing the sea; it was sold for an undisclosed amount.

The China Guardian has held more than 1.200 auctions to date, with close to 8 billion dollars in sales. The house accomplished this in its twenty-six years of operation.

The auction house made history with the sale of Ming Dynasty painter Qiu Ying’s Red Cliff. The painting sold for over $10 million.

5. Heritage Auctions

Image 6 - Heritage Auctions - Ben Heine Art Blog

Surpassing Sotheby’s and Christie’s, which have longer histories, Heritage Auctions stands as the world’s largest collectibles house. Established in 1976, the Auction has risen through the struggles to become the third-largest Auction house globally. It is the largest US-founded auction house and the undisputed online auction leader boosting over a million registered online bidders- the largest across the globe. Two factors make Heritage auction distinct: its collectibles and its headquarters. Heritage auction’s specialized collections are exceptional. They include rare coins, Western art, vintage comics, contemporary photography, fine and decorative arts, illustrative arts, civil war memorabilia, air and space memorabilia, jewelry and watches, books manuscripts –and the list goes on. Another reason Heritage Auctions is unique is that it’s the only auction house created in America. It never moved its headquarters overseas. Although Heritage Auctions has locations worldwide, more than half its sales come from online transactions. Heritage House has some impressive sales figures, making its more than one billion dollars in yearly revenue. The Auction’s integration of ancient and modern technologies ensures it remains relevant across generations.

A collection of Lalique crystals were also sold in the auction for $1.7 million. Despite its relatively young age, Heritage Auction House stands as one of the top houses in the world. The Auction also boasts a solid social responsibility network conducting regular fundraising auctions dedicated to charitable events. The proceeds of these charity auctions have impacted hundreds of charities from across the globe, including Juvenile Diabetes and the PDK Kidney Foundation, to mention a few.

6. Beijing Poly International

Image 7 - Beijing Poly International Auction Company Ben Heine Art Blog

Beijing Poly International Auction Company is the holder of the prestigious ‘most influential auction house in mainland China and the leading Chinese Auction firm in the Asian market.

In Beijing Poly International Auction Company’s unique catalogue, you can only find rare books, manuscripts, wines, clocks, jewels, and scientific instruments. Poly International was established in 1992 by the People’s Liberation Army of China before its supervision was transferred to another government agency in 1999. Since then, the Auction, which emphasizes modern and contemporary art, has expanded beyond China to feature international auction markets, where it grosses billions of dollars in sales revenue every year. In 2013, Beijing Poly International Auction Company famously sold The Jade Dragon for $13 million. This was followed up by the $18 million sale of Qi Baishi‘s Album of Insects in 2015. We’re sure to see more from this solid state-holding company. They show no signs of slowing down.

Article: © Ben Heine – Copyrighted content
Images: Shutterstock

Ben Heine

Ben Heine

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