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Headline figures beyond the 13% increase in year-on-year global sales (to £2.2bn/$3.5bn) are the 53% rise in private sales to £413.4m - now representing 18% of all sales by value - and the 15% growth in the number of clients bidding via Christie's Live, the company's live online auction facility.

As reported earlier this month, Christie's are launching online-only sales for a range of suitable disciplines, such as wine.

The company are also keen to highlight the healthy growth in their audience, announcing that 19% of all registered bids come from new clients and sales now have a reach to 124 countries across the world.

Demand from Asia

"While sale totals decreased from the record levels of 2011 for Asian art and auction sales in Hong Kong, there was a 31% increase in Asian clients registering to bid in New York and London," said a spokesman.

Meanwhile they also note that there is a 20% increase in online activity. This represents the uplift in visitors to their main website, www.christies.com, but how that correlates with increased business activity is not so clear.

Results continue to be dominated by Contemporary and Modern art, which accounted for all top ten lots sold during the first six months of the year at Christie's, led by Mark Rothko's oil on canvas, Orange, Red, Yellow from 1961, which took $77.5m (£50m) on May 8 in New York, setting a world record at auction for Contemporary art.