Christie’s Set New Auction Records at Their 20th/21st-Century Sales

Christie's Pulled $202 Million and Set New Auction Records for Seven Artists, at Their 20th/21st-Century Sales in London.

Mar 2, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Christie’s 20th/21st Century London Evening Sale


Christie’s new auction sale took place in London on February 2028. The auction lasts for a week and in just two days they managed to collect $202 Million. The total sale may fit the expectations of the auction house. Their expectations vary in the range of ($154.3–229.3 million. As we can see, they managed to get little more than $200 million.

Christie’s Last Years Sale Better for 30 Percent

Christie’s 20th/21st Century London Evening Sale


Although it may look like the auction house experienced success, it is not quite what it seems. Earned money looks bigger than it is. Overall, fees charged by the auction house inflate the final sales figures published by the firm. The final price of the auction night ($166.2 million) clearly shows how things went and shows a more realistic result. The evening was good, but not so spectacular.


If we compare this year’s evening sale to their sales from last year, we can see a big difference. The sales had the same code (The Art of the Surreal sale), but different results. Last year’s sale was much more successful than this year’s. Also, it managed to pull ($334 million after fees. It clearly shows that this year’s sale fell by 32.6 percent.


Pablo Picasso, Femme dans un rocking-chair (Jacqueline) (1956). Photo courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd 2023.


The artwork that raised the most money at the auction is “Femme dans un rocking-chair (Jacqueline)”. The creator of this remarkable painting is Pablo Picasso. Christie’s estimated its value between $18–24 million. But, painting managed to fetch $17.4 million on just one bid. Giovanna Bertazzoni, an Impressionist and Modern specialist, was very likely competing on account of its third-party insurer.


How to Use Timezones Into Your Adventage?

The sale room at Christie’s 20th/21st century evening sale on February 28. Photo courtesy Christie’s Images Limited 2023.

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter


As previously said, Christie’s managed to set new auction records for seven artists. That includes artists such as Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Tyler Hobbs, Wolfgang Paalen and Caroline Walker. “The diverse group of works, the majority never seen at auction before, exemplified the purpose of Christie’s signature 20th/21st category. The goal is to bring contemporary voices into dialogue with those of earlier generations”, said Giovanna Bertazzoni, vice-chairman, 20th/21st Century Art Department.


The auction is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. The intention was to take advantage of the fact that the auction is held in London. London’s central time zone makes it easy for global buyers to participate, especially those from New York and Asia. Specialists flocked to the phone banks on both sides, creating a slightly frantic environment before the transaction. One of the attendees smirked at the theater of it all, remarking “it all happens on the phones anyway”.

Liu Ye, The Goddess (2018). Photo courtesy of Christie’s Images Limited 2023.


The turnout was unsurprising given that this week in London marks the first public market test of the year in an increasingly volatile financial environment. Six records were set; 12 works failed to find buyers, of which 10 were within the main sale, two in the Surrealist portion of the evening.

Author Image

By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.