Middle East Art Market ‘Strong’, Says Christie’s CEO

This week, Christie’s is holding watch auctions on post-war and contemporary art.

Guillaume Cerutti, the Chief Executive Officer of the company said that the company this year expects to build on a ‘strong art market’, with the Middle East playing a ‘very important role’.

Cerutti said in an interview on Wednesday that the basics are very optimistic and they are on very strong and safe grounds this year.

The company’s sales figures climbed last year, after falling in 2015 and 2016.

The company’s sales of collectibles and arts last year rose 26% with the sales of auctions rising up to 38%, steered by Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” amounting to a record $450 million in November.

Cerutti said that the Middle East is without doubt a very important part of the art market of today. He said that the bidding of the Da Vinci painting proves that the Middle East is a key player.

According to Christie’s Middle East’s managing director and deputy chairman Michael Jeha, the watch sale on Friday has 219 lots, valued at $5 million to $8 million, before the buyer’s premium. He said the art auction on Thursday has 73 lots, which is valued at as much as $4.4 million. According to him, it is the first time the watch auction has a higher estimate than the art sale.

Christie’s is a British auction house and its main buildings are in London and in the Rockefeller Center, New York City. The holding company of François-Henri Pinault, Groupe Artémis owns the company. The company’s sales totaled £4.8 billion ($7.4 billion) in 2015 and it was also recognized of selling the most expensive painting ever sold, the Salvator Mundi for $450.3 million.

The official literature of the company indicates that James Christie, the founder conducted the first sales on December 5th, 1766 in London, England. It also states that the earliest auction catalogue retained by the company was from Dec. 1766. Other sources however note that founder James Christie rented auction rooms from 1762.

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