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French auctions net €1.25bn for art and antiques in 2011

02 April 2012Written by Mark Bridge

TOTAL auction sales in France rose by 8.6 per cent in 2011 to €2.38bn. Art, antiques and other collectors' sales accounted for just over half that figure at €1.25bn, a record total that surpassed the boom years of 2006 and 2007, as well as 2009 when the Yves St Laurent sale at Christie's in Paris gave a huge boost in what was otherwise a lacklustre year.

Christie's again came out on top in 2011, with total sales of €165m, closely followed by Sotheby's with €157m. Sales of €98m for the year put ArtCurial in third place.

In Paris, Sotheby's and Christie's now account for 38% of total sale revenue, with 47% taken at Hôtel Drouot and 11% at ArtCurial.

The Paris region dominates the art and antiques sector, with 119 auctioneers producing a total of €940m in sales. The only auction house from outside the Paris region to appear in the top 20 in 2011 was Marc Labarbe from Toulouse, whose sales were posted at €20m thanks to spectacular bidding on a Chinese scroll in March. That exceptional item aside, the major sales outside Paris were concentrated in the Rhone Valley, Provence and Cote d'Azur regions.

Within this sector the €1.25bn total was further broken down, showing €866m for art and antiques, €147m for collectors' items, €102m for silver and jewellery and €43m for wine and spirits.

Secondhand cars are the other big sellers at auction in France, accounting for €926m, while plant and machinery totalled €93m. Bloodstock sales of horses accounted for €109m.

These annual figures, released by the Government's auction supervisory body, the Conseil de Ventes, do not include court-order sales which come under a separate jurisdiction in French law. Most French auctioneers conduct both types of sale.

All figures are quoted without premium or charges added.

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Written by

Mark Bridge



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