C apping yet another stellar year in 2019, Sotheby's outpaced all international auction houses in Asia for the fourth consecutive year, and maintains a 16% leading market share over our nearest competitor. The strength of the year's figures tells its own story. Sotheby's holds eight out of the top ten lots sold in all Hong Kong auctions, and remains the undisputed market leader in Western Art sales in Asia.
Sotheby’s emerges yet again as the definitive market leader for the fourth consecutive year in Asia, outpacing our competitors on many fronts. Fuelling our success is our adamant devotion to quality, constant innovation, and the unparalleled expertise of our specialists, which helped us fully leverage the sustained strength and potential of this region. Our outstanding results in 2019 positions us ever more strongly in propelling our business and the wider art market forward in 2020.
UNCHALLENGED LEADERSHIP ACROSS ALL METRICS
Sotheby's remains on top as the 2019 auction year in Asia comes to a close, with aggregate sales reaching HK$7.35 billion (US$936 million), marking the second highest total in the company’s history in the region. These results also show Sotheby’s leading Asia for the fourth year in a row, clinching a 16% lead in market share over its nearest competitor. Delivering for consignors, auctions have achieved a consistently high average sell-through rate of 88% in the year. Prices have been strong, in aggregate total about 150% over low estimate, and 60% of the lots sold at or above high estimate. This year, Sotheby’s claims eight out of the top ten highest value auction lots sold in Hong Kong, with eleven works sold that topped HK$100 million, and setting more than 40 world auction records.
Sotheby's leads the market across categories, including:
- Chinese Works of Art: HK$1.52 billion (US$193 million), holding its lead in this category for the tenth consecutive year.
- Fine Chinese Paintings: HK$884 million (US$112.6 million).
- Modern Art: HK$1.55 billion (US$197.2 million), marking the second highest total in Sotheby’s Asia.
- Contemporary Art: HK$1.63 billion (US$207.2 million), achieving the highest among all auction houses in Asia.
- Southeast Asian Art: HK$258 million (US$32.8 million).
- Wine: HK$461 million (US$58.7 million), reaching the highest total in Sotheby’s Asia.
A real standout for me is the record high sales of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art as well as Western works here in Asia, together with Asian clients' significant contribution in Sotheby's global salerooms, bagging nine out of the top twenty works we sold in 2019. These remarkable results speak for our industry-leading effort to develop and grow the Western Art market in Asia and our ability to expand our clients' collecting fields.
CULTIVATING AN EXPANDING CLIENT BASE
These results reflect a growing client base. Sales show global participation with buyers from 55 countries. New buyers accounted for 31% of the total, representing an important and emerging collector base that has potential to grow. Collectors age 40 or younger make up 25% of total buyers in Asia. That figure approaches 50% for the NIGOLDENEYE® sale.
Year after year we have achieved exceptional performance against estimates and consistently strong sell through rates, leaving no doubt of Sotheby's unrivalled capability in delivering the greatest value for our clients.
KEY DRIVER OF GLOBAL AUCTION MARKET
Still the dominant force in worldwide sales, Asian clients account for 30% of Sotheby’s worldwide auction sales. Of the top twenty lots sold by Sotheby’s worldwide, Asian clients bid on fifteen and bought nine.
ASIAN INTEREST IN WESTERN ART GROWS
Sotheby’s continues to lead the market for Western Art in Asia with a sales total of HK$758 million (US$96.6 million), nearly double the total of its nearest competitors combined. The number of Asian clients buying Western art at Sotheby’s worldwide sales grew by 22% from the previous year. The results show strong performance for the broadest offering of Western art in Hong Kong to date. At Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Evening Sale in November, the three top lots – works by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still – were all acquired by Asian collectors.
MOVING AHEAD IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Sotheby's has focused on boosting its online auctions, with as many as ten online-only auctions held in 2019, with sales four times in value. The number of online buyers doubled this year. Sotheby’s has a growing social media audience of over 2 million across all platforms. Greater engagement and innovation are just some of the reasons Asia remains a dominant force in worldwide sales.