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Christie's were first to announce their global art sales total (including auction and private sales), which stood at £2bn/$3.2bn for the first six months of the year, a rise of 10% on the same period for 2010. The auction house followed this figure immediately with the news that private treaty sales had risen 57% to £286.7m/$467.3m.

By comparison, Sotheby's reported record first half equivalent global art sale totals of £2.12bn/$3.4bn, a 45% rise on the same period in 2010.

Private sales rose by 114% to £275.1m/$448.4m.

Christie's have also been keen to highlight their internet and online bidding service performance.

Christie's Live saw 19% of clients bidding via the web, surprisingly down on the figure of 28% that the company gave out in March, although that was for the whole of 2010. Christie's also reported a 14% rise in new clients buying.

Meanwhile Sotheby's have yet to turn the spotlight on their still-nascent Bid Now system when it comes to results.

As for the markets in which the auction firms operate, Christie's saw a 24% rise in sterling terms to £803.4m/$1.3bn in UK and European sales for the first half, with a 13% drop for the equivalent period in the Americas to £577.7m/$941.6m. But it was Asia that told the real story, with sales up 48% at £296m/$482.5m, a trend that is expected to continue.

Sotheby's Spring sales series in Hong Kong netted a record £274.2m/$447m, while their June Contemporary series in London also set a record at £126.4m/$206m.

By Ivan Macquisten