After a tough economic year, several French auction firms have now released their sales figures for 2012.
Christie's France saw €193.5m of sales at public auction. The increasingly important area of private sales, which have been permitted in France since September 2011, contributed a further €37.9m, producing a combined sales total of €231.4m.
This compares to a combined figure of €205.4m for 2011 and represents an 12.7% increase making it the best year for Christie's France since 2009 when the Saint-Laurent/Bergé auction boosted their figures to an as yet unrepeated €455m. Among Christie's key trends in 2012 were a 53% increase in online sales and an increase in non-French purchasing with 77% of lots by value acquired by foreign buyers.
Sotheby's France, achieved €182m worth of sales at public auction, a figure that was slightly down on the €190m recorded for 2011 and what they described as "solid results in a more difficult economic context". Sotheby's do not publish separate private sales figures for their French operation but reported an increase in private sales in line with results worldwide and they also saw a dominance of foreign clientele with 77% of their lots going to countries outside France.
Artcurial recorded €144.2m in their public auctions, a 13.5% increase over 2011. Private sales, which were not included in this figure, comprised around 5% of their total. This was another firm that saw significant growth in foreign buyers who represented 67% of the total value of sales for this year.
Several firms who use Drouot for some or all of their auctions also published their sales figures. Piasa racked up €27.3m which represents a 20% increase on 2011 but is still some way behind the €45m they managed in 2010 when they sold the Carasso collection.
Beaussant Lefèvre recorded €23.25m, 9% up on 2011, helped by two substantial paintings results which were amongst the highest picture prices seen at Drouot last year, while Aguttes, who sell at Drouot but also at Neuilly just outside Paris and in Lyon, recorded a combined sales figure for all these venues of €37.6m, a 2.76% increase over the previous year.
A substantial contribution to that figure came from the marble bust of the Marquis de Gouvernet by Edmé Bouchardon that was pre-empted by the Louvre for £3m (£2.5m) in June.
Out of town, the Ivoire group, which comprises ten auction firms across the country, produced €77.2m worth of sales between them.