Christie's luxury market report
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Christie's luxury market report
The Most Expensive Handbag Sold at Auction: A Rare, Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Retourné Kelly 25 with Palladium Hardware Hermès, 2019 Grade: 1. Price Realized (USD$) 437,555. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

NEW YORK.- • There has been an accelerated shift to online sales with a 41% increase in luxury lots sold in online auctions; 82% increase in the number of luxury online sales, and a 205% increase in the value of online luxury sales YoY.

• Performance has been strong across all categories with an 87% overall sell-through for the portfolio; 136 records were set and 53 lots achieved over $1million. The year included multiple white-glove sales with 100% sell-throughs including A Wonderful Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Collection (December 5, Hong Kong); and Handbags Online: The London Edition (June 25, London).

• New heights have been realized for online luxury sales with records set for a jewel sold online, handbag sold online, and watch sold online at Christie’s. Record online sale totals have also been achieved across all categories.

• Traditional auctions were held in adapted formats including live-hybrid auctions with increased online bidding through Christie’s LIVE.

• Luxury categories have also dedicated resources to charity auctions or collections with philanthropic components. Throughout 2020, collectively over $20 million was achieved in charitable sales or collections.

Comment from Aline Sylla-Walbaum, Christie’s Global Managing Director, Luxury: “This year, when so many of our live sales could not be held in person, we quickly moved and scaled our sales even more towards online, where we were holding already sales for the past 10 years. In total we conducted 40 Luxury online sales (82%+ from 2019) with a 205% increase in the value of online luxury sales. Recent live auctions in Geneva and New York opted for a more hybrid approach, much appreciated by our clients – both, consignors and buyers. The one thing that I will take from this year, is the immense trust of our traditional and new client (+40%) base in our expertise to buy online, without the chance of seeing the objects in the flesh. Also a huge thank you is due to our consignors, trusting in our digital platform and in our excellent client relationships.”


• Throughout 2020, 48 lots sold over $1m and global jewelry sales achieved an overall sell-through of 84%.

• There was global participation with bidders hailing from 74 countries and a meaningful reach to new audiences with 32% new buyers.

• Online sales were at an all-time high with 143% increase in the amount of online sales; 38% increase in lots sold online; and a 241% increase in the value of online jewels sales YoY.

• In June 2020, Christie’s established the record for a jewel sold in an online auction with a 28.86 Carat, D Color Diamond, achieving $2,115,000.

• The top lot for Christie’s Jewels for the year was a fancy intense blue, marquise-cut, internally flawless, diamond ring of 12.11 carats, which sold in Hong Kong in July for $15,870,815.

• In the November Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale, a new auction record price per carat was established for a fancy purplish-red diamond, set into a ring by Graff. The 1.05 carat stone sold for CHF2,760,000, translating into price per carat at $2,640,000.

• In the December New York Magnificent Jewels sale, the top lot of the sale was an extraordinary Kashmir sapphire and diamond bracelet of 43.10 carats surrounded by D color internally flawless diamonds that was purchased for $6,030,000 by Harry Winston to add to their Legacy Collection.

• New strides were made for Jewels Online sales with online sales expanded to every major sale site. In addition to Hong Kong and New York, for the first time this year, online Jewels sales were hosted in Paris, London, and Geneva. Making our digital footprint as global as our auction footprint. These sales were met with strong results, as seen with the first-ever online Magnificent Jewels Online sale from Geneva, which sold 89% of all lots and 100% by value, attracting over 1,500 bids from around the globe.

• Overall, the department hosted 17 online sales including the curated Jewels Online sales, Summer Sparkle, the inaugural diamond online sale, and Iconic Designs; alongside charitable online auctions including Together for Children | #Sparkle Together; and Diamonds that Care: A Charity Auction.

• Christie’s Jewels also supported collections with charitable initiatives including Jewels offered in loving memory of Lana Chenko-Haddad to benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children, the ASPCA, and Breast Cancer Research; Property from the Collection of Athena Blackburn Sold to Benefit Charitable Causes; and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which achieved a combined total of over $2million for charitable online sales and collections.


• Throughout 2020, 11 records were set for references and 5 watches were sold over $1million.

• Across the watches sales from Dubai, to New York, Hong Kong and Geneva in 2020 a total of 2,386 unique timepieces were offered to buyers at a very equal share amongst Asia, the US and Europe.

• Each sale welcomed new registrations, as much as up to 50% in our New York online sale running from 22 July to 5 August 2020.

• There was a major conversion to online sales with a 211% increase in value offered online, and the Christie’s Watches Dept. broke the record for online watches sales x3 times this year:

• October 2020: The Dubai Watches sale achieved $5,592,000 establishing a record for an online watches sale at Christie’s. The leading watch was a Rolex, Steel Submariner "MILSUB", Ref. 5513/17- made for the British Royal Navy, which sold for $400,000, the record price at the time for a Watch sold online at Christie’s.

• November 2020: This watch record was surpassed a few weeks later by the Watches Online “The Geneva Edit”, which totalled $5,878,537. The top lot of the auction was a F.P. JOURNE, platinum tourbillon Souverain, ref. T, made in 1999, which sold for $577,500 establishing a new record price for a Watch sold online at Christie’s.

• December 2020: Rare Watches New York: Online surpassed that figure totaling $7.7m – a new record total for a watches online sale at Christie’s and the record for the most valuable watch sold at Christie’s Online with the Patek Philippe reference 1463 in pink gold retailed by Serpico Y Laino, which sold for $600,000.

• 11 records set in 2020 for timepieces included:

• In Hong Kong, a total of 8 auction records for Patek Philippe references were established across the Titanium (July 2020) and Ruby Collections (Nov 2020), confirming Christie’s market leadership in offering the most valuable Patek Philippe timepieces in Asia. Records Set For Patek Philippe Ref. 3448, 5103, 1518, 5063, 2526, 6104, 5033, and 2524/1.

• Additional records were set in the New York sale (December 2020):

• Patek Philippe Nautilus reference 3800, which achieved $312,500.

• Cartier “Crash” in yellow gold that sold for $225,000, over three times its initial estimate.

• F.P. Journe Platinum, Chronometre Souverain, De Boulle Edition, No. 547-Cs, which sold for $100,000, over four times its initial estimate.


• Throughout 2020, global Wine sales performed with an overall sell-through of 91%.

• There was a shift toward online with a 143% increase in value of lots sold online and a 98% increase in the number of lots sold online YoY.

• On 13 December, the 160th Wine Sale of the Hospices Civils de Beaune achieved a combined total of €14,333,209/£13,043,220/$17,343,183, the second best result for the Hospices Civils de Beaune sale. Top lot of the sale, which was also the most expensive wine sold at Christie’s in 2020, was Pièce des Présidents – Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, 1 barrel per lot, realizing €706,200/ $800,953. This year, the Hospices Civils de Beaune decided to support the hospital workers in France and their families directly affected by the pandemic via La Fédération hospitalière de France supported by famous French singer Marc Lavoine.

• On 10 and 11 December, the Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits, Featuring Three Superb Private Collections sale in London totaled £2,666,353 / $3,551,582. The top lots of the auction were Lot 359, a case of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1988, which achieved £226,625 / $301,864 / €249,288 and Lot 103, 6 magnums of Château Latour 1961, which achieved over twice its high estimate, selling for £102,900 / $137,063 / €113,190. Lot 558, a bottle of The Harewood Light Rum 1780, the oldest rum on the market, achieved £24,500 / $32,634.

• On 9 November, the Finest & Rarest Wines featuring An Exceptional Italian Collection sale in Geneva totaled CHF2,557,776/ $2,813,554. Respecting the local sanitary regulations, the public was not present in the saleroom but with 62% of lots going to absentee bidders, 29% to bidders via Christie’s LiveTM and 9% to telephone bidders.

• The online sale of Fine & Rare Wines and Spirits Including Historic Madeira Direct from the Island (10-24 November) totaled $1,859,188 and achieved 46 world auction records with 37 of those records set for Madeira.

• The single owner online sale The Benjamin Ichinose Collection of Fine and Rare Wines (16-31 July) totaled $2,340,800, the highest total ever achieved for an online wine sale at Christie’s,and set 76 world auction records.

• On 12 July, the Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits auction in Hong Kong totaled HK$42,076,250/ $5,455,374, with the debut sale of Japanese Juyondai premium sake at Christie’s achieving 100% sold and realizing 168% over its pre-sale low estimate.

• On 5 December, the single owner collection sale of A Wonderful Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Collection in Hong Kong achieved HK$20,545,000 / $2,662,214 and was 100% sold and 25% above pre-sale high estimate. On the same day, the second wine auction Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits Including A Magnificent Collection of Karuizawa achieved 100% sell-through rate for Japanese whiskies from Karuizawa, premium sake from Juyondai, German wine from Egon Müller and Armand Rousseau wines.


• Throughout 2020, global Handbags sales performed with an overall sell-through of 92%.

• There was a shift toward online with 133% increase of online Handbags sales and a 155% increase in value of lots sold online YoY.

• Throughout the year, the category set numerous records including:

• The world auction record for a handbag was achieved in Hong Kong (November 2020) for a rare, Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Retourné Kelly 25 with Palladium Hardware, Hermès, 2019, which sold for HK$3,375,000/ US$437,330. This was complemented by the result of the second top lot of the sale, a rare, Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 25 with Palladium Hardware, Hermès, 2016, which sold for HK$3,000,000/ US$388,738. Both lots broke the previous world auction record set by Christie’s Hong Kong in Autumn 2017.

• The record for an online Handbags sale at Christie’s was set in the November Handbags & Accessories Online: The London Edition, which totaled $3,441,535.

• The record for a handbag sold in an online-only auction was set in the July sale of Handbags & Accessories: Summer in the City with a rare Hermès Diamond Himalaya Birkin 25, which realized $300,000.

• During Handbags & Accessories Online: The New York Edition (24 November to 10 December), exceptional pieces were offered online from the collection of philanthropist and couture collector Susan Casden with proceeds intended to be donated to a museum. Among the treasures was a Hermès Matte Ébène Salvator Lizard Retourné Kelly 25 with Ruthenium Hardware, which sold for $37,500. Offered, too, was a Hermès Fuchsia Niloticus Crocodile Sellier Kelly with Palladium Hardware, which sold for $56,250, nearly triple its low estimate.

• Christie’s Handbags Online: The London Edition (9 to 25 June 2020) attracted participation from around the globe, with bidders from 39 countries, across six continents, taking part in the sale. The auction was 100% sold.

• Christie’s partnered with Stadium Goods for its inaugural sneaker auction, Original Air: Michael Jordan Game-Worn and Player Exclusive Sneaker Rarities (30 July to 13 August 2020). The sale witnessed an unprecedented amount of engagement from around the world with online visitors from over 120 countries and 72% of registered bidders were new to Christie’s. There was extraordinary online engagement with over 90,000 unique visitors to related sale pages from 126 countries.

• Picking-up from 2019 momentum with the success of Handbags x Hype, Christie’s hosted its first dedicated stand-alone auction of Supreme, Behind the Box: 1994-2020 (1 December to 15 December 2020) received a large amount of engagement with over 40,000 unique views, and 63% of registered bidders new to Christie’s. The top lot of the sale, the Supreme/ Stern Pinball Machine from Max Fish, sold for $81,250, over three times the high estimate.

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