Christie's employees take remote and telephone bids
London - AFP
London-based Christie's International, the world's leading auction house by revenue, on Tuesday reported a five percent fall in annual sales with economic uncertainty damping demand in emerging markets.
Bucking five straight years of growth, the company recorded sales of Â£4.8 billion ($7.4 billion, 6.8 billion euros) in 2015, down from Â£5.1 billion in 2014.
The figures still represent Christie's second-best performance ever.
"The froth is starting to come off," Anders Petterson, founder and managing director of research group ArtTactic, told Bloomberg.
"Looking back, in terms of auction sales, 2014 was the peak of the market."
In its Old Masters, 19th century and Russian art category, Christie's recorded a 37 percent loss, and a 14 percent loss in its postwar and contemporary auctions.
Private sales slumped by 39 percent to Â£554.9 million but Impressionist and modern art rose 57 percent to Â£1.3 billion.
ArtTactic said Monday that plunging stock and bond markets, falling oil prices and fears about China's economy were sowing caution in the art market.
Christie's claimed the top three highest selling works sold globally in 2015, including Pablo Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O)", which fetched $179.4 million at an auction in New York in May.