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Christie's is a leading art business and a fine arts auction house.


The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in Londonmarker, Englandmarker on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766. However, other sources note that James Christie rented auction rooms from 1762, and newspaper advertisements of Christie's sales dating from 1759 have also been traced.

Christie's soon established a reputation as a leading auction house, and took advantage of London's new found status as the major centre of the international art trade after the French Revolution.

Christie's was a public company, listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1973 to 1999, after which it was taken into private ownership by Frenchman François Pinault.

On December 28, 2008, the Sunday Times reported that Pinault's debts left him "considering" the sale of Christie's and that a number of "private equity groups" were thought to be interested in its acquisition. In January 2009, Christie's was reported to employ 2,100 people worldwide, though an unspecified number of staff and consultants were soon to be cut due to a worldwide downturn in the art market; later news reports said that 300 jobs would be cut. With sales for premier Impressionist, Modern, and contemporary artworks tallying only $US248.8 million in comparison to $US739 million just a year before, a second round of job cuts began after May 2009 when the auction house was still reported to employ 1,900 people worldwide. One of the auction house's "rainmakers" in the sale of Impressionist and Modern art, Guy Bennett, resigned from the auction house just prior to the beginning of the summer 2009 sales season. Although the economic downturn has encouraged some collectors to sell art, others are unwilling to sell in a market which may yield only bargain prices.

The Christie's New York sign was created by Nancy Meyers during the production of Something's Gotta Give for an exterior shot. The auction house liked the sign so much that they requested the production leave it after shooting finished.


Christie's main London salesroom is on King Street in St. James'smarker, where it has been based since 1823. It has a second London salesroom in South Kensingtonmarker which opened in 1975 and primarily handles the middle market. Christie's South Kensington is one of the worlds busiest auction rooms.

As of January 2009, Christie's had 85 offices (not all are salesrooms) in 43 countries, including New York Citymarker, Los Angelesmarker, Parismarker, Genevamarker, Amsterdammarker, Moscowmarker, Viennamarker, Buenos Airesmarker, Berlinmarker, Romemarker, South Koreamarker, Milanmarker, Spainmarker, Japanmarker, Chinamarker, Australia, Hong Kongmarker, Singaporemarker, Bangkokmarker, Tel Avivmarker, Dubaimarker, and Mexico Citymarker. In 1995, Christie's became the first international auction house to exhibit works of art in Beijing, China.

Price-fixing scandal

In 2000, allegations surfaced of a price-fixing arrangement between Christie's and Sotheby's, another major auction house. Executives from Christie's subsequently alerted the Department of Justice of their suspicions of commission-fixing collusion.

Christie's gained immunity from prosecution in the United States after a longtime employee of Christie's confessed and cooperated with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker. Numerous members of Sotheby's senior management were fired soon thereafter, and A. Alfred Taubman, the largest shareholder of Sotheby's at the time, took most of the blame; he and Dede Brooks (the COO) were given jail sentences.

Notable auctions

  • In 1987, during the Royal Albert Hallmarker auction, Christie's famously auctioned off a Bugatti Royale automobile for a world record price of £5.5 million.
  • In May 1989, Pontormo's Portrait of a Halberdier was sold to the J.marker Paul Getty Museummarker for $35.2 million, more than tripling the previous auction record for an Old Master painting.
  • In 1998, Christie's in New York sold the famous Archimedes Palimpsest after the conclusion of a lawsuit in which its ownership was disputed.
  • May 16, 2006, Christie's auctioned a Stradivarius called The Hammer for a record US$3,544,000. It was, at that time, the most paid at public auction for any musical instrument.
  • Oct 2006, Christie's auctioned 1,000 lots of official Star Trek contents from the CBS Paramount Television studios. A model of the starship Enterprise-D, used in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Generations sold for $576,000.
  • Nov 2006, 4 celebrated paintings by Gustav Klimt were sold for a total of $192 million, after being restituted by Austriamarker to Jewish heirs after a lengthy legal battle.
  • Dec 2006, The black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's was sold for £467, 200 at Christie's South Kensington.
  • Continuing to dominate the global market for fine arts, Christie's staged the five largest auctions of all time in November 2006, and May and June 2007.
  • Jan. 31 & Feb. 1, 2007, Christie's auction house sold a total of $21 million worth of jewelry and art in Dubai. It was the first time ever an international auction house had held a jewelry sale in the Middle Eastern tourist and retail mecca, and the second sale of art.
  • Nov 2007, an Album of eight leaves, ink on paper, by China's Ming Dynastymarker court painter Dong Qichang was sold at the Christie's Hong Kong Chinese Paintings Auction for US$6,235,500, a world auction record for the artist.
  • In 2008, the Ink and wash painting of Gundam drawn by Hisashi in 2005 was sold in the Christie's auction held in Hong Kong with a price of US$600,000.
  • May 24 2008, Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas by Claude Monet was sold for a price of $80.4 million, the highest price ever for a Monet.
  • Over a three-day sale in Parismarker in February 2009, Christie's auctioned the monumental private collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé for a record-breaking 370 million euros (US$490 million). It was the most expensive private collection ever sold at auction, breaking auction records for Brancusi, Matisse, and Mondrian. A "Dragons'" armchair by Irish furniture designer Eileen Gray sold for 21. 9 million euros (US$28 million), setting an auction record for a piece of 20th century decorative art.

  • The 2009 auction (for US$ 36 million) of two imperial bronze zodiac sculptures, looted in 1860 from the Old Summer Palacemarker of Beijing by Frenchmarker and Britishmarker forces at the close of the Second Opium War caused controversy.
  • Christie's has auctioned off artwork and personal possessions linked to historical figures such as Pablo Picasso; Rembrandt; Diana, Princess of Wales; Leonardo da Vinci; Vincent van Gogh; Napoleon Bonaparte; Marilyn Monroe; and others.

Christie's Great Estates

Christie’s clients who buy and sell works of art often request real estate services. To satisfy this demand, Great Estates, founded by Kay Coughlin in 1987, was acquired by the auction house in 1995. Christie's Great Estates is a wholly owned subsidiary of Christie's, and is the largest international network of real estate brokers dedicated to the marketing and sale of luxury properties. The network spans more than 40 countries worldwide, with 900 offices and approximately 36,000 brokers. In 2007, the network achieved total combined annual sales in excess of US$128 billion.

Christie's Education Graduate Programmes

The educational arm of Christie's auction house is called Christie's Educationmarker. It has colleges in London and New York accredited by the University of Glasgowmarker in the UKmarker and the New York State Board of Regents in the USAmarker. It offers Master's Degrees, Graduate Diplomas, Art Business Certificates and an Undergraduate Degree. Courses include: Arts of China; Early European Art (Antiquity, Middle Ages and Renaissance); Art, Style and Design (Renaissance to Modernism); Modern and Contemporary Art (all in London) and Modern Art, Connoisseurship and the History of the Art Market (in New York). Part-time, certificate and continuing education programmes are also offered in London and New York.


Christie's Images is the picture library for the auction house and has an archive of several million fine and decorative art images representing items sold in its sale rooms around the world. With offices in New York and London, images are available for reproduction.

With Bonhams, Christie's is a shareholder in the London-based Art Loss Register, a privately-owned database used by law enforcement services worldwide to trace and recover stolen art.


  1. {Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser (London, England), Saturday, September 25, 1762; Issue 10460}
  3. Most expensive Gundam picture sold in history
  4. Ink painting of Gundam sold at historical price
  5. Gun-Slinging Robot, Wooden Beams Mark Quiet Hong Kong Art Sale
  6. Gundam Fetches $600,000
  7. Gundam Painting Auctioned for US$600,000+ in Hong Kong
  8. com/lotfinder/lot_details. aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5157531 TRES RARE ET IMPORTANTE TETE DE LAPIN, Yves Saint Laurent sale catalog, Christie's (Paris), February 24, 2009.
  9. com/lotfinder/lot_details. aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5157530 TRES RARE ET IMPORTANTE TETE DE RAT, Yves Saint Laurent sale catalog, Christie's (Paris), February 24, 2009.
  10. http://www.christiesgreatestates. com/welcome/about_cge. htm
  11. com/directory/ad157. htm The Art Loss Register, Ltd. : "The Art Loss Register is the world's largest database of stolen art and antiques dedicated to their recovery. Its shareholders include Christie's, Bonhams, members of the insurance industry and art trade associations. " Retrieved on 27 September 2008.


  • J. Herbert, Inside Christie’s, London, 1990
  • P. A. Colson, The Story of Christie's, London, 1950
  • H. C. Marillier, Christie's, 1766-1925, London, 1926
  • M. A. Michael, A Brief History of Christie's Education... , London, 2008
  • W. Roberts, Memorials of Christie's, 2 vols, London, 1897

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