Courtesy of Christie’s
If age is a measure of excellence then the London-based auction house, Christie’s, has plenty of it. This year marks the 250th anniversary for the company founded in 1766 by James Christie. The auction house has since conducted many celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, had a global auction, private and digital sales in the first half of 2016 that totaled £2.1 billion (about $3 billion). Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine and more. It can handle auctions of items that range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on postwar & contemporary, impressionist, modern, old masters and jewelry.
To celebrate the special anniversary, Christie’s held a series of special sales, exhibitions and events across the globe. Celebrations of this landmark anniversary have included British art that explored the legacy of four centuries of British art, and special curated sales to mark three decades in Asia and a decade in Dubai. Asia is an important market; Christie’s Hong Kong Spring sale season realized a combined sales of $364 million. This season Christie’s also offered the first dedicated online sale of Chinese paintings, with 45% of the works achieving prices above their high estimate.
Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 12 salesrooms around the world including in London, Mumbai, New York, Paris and Shanghai. Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in growth markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.
Christie’s has been in the Indonesian art market for two decades, when Deborah Iskandar opened the Christie’s Indonesia office in 1996 and was later succeeded by Amalia Wirjono. Charmie Hamami took the position of Vice President and Chief Representative for Indonesia in 2013. Indonesia has a vibrant art market, with unique collecting tastes and trends. “Indonesian collectors are maturing very quickly and have a strong interest in new talents and trends,” Charmie says. According to her, Indonesia is a special market with its own set of challenges in regulatory, public art infrastructure and government support; however the market has also been maturing. In recent years there has been an increase in development and support for the art ecosystem, from galleries, collectors and the government.
Contrasting to the early 2000s, Indonesian contemporary art was very speculative, however collectors have now focused on more patronage and collecting for passion that is healthier for the market. Furthermore, galleries have started to emerge with consistent programming in order to capture this interest with programs to procure works of Indonesian art, which helps to balance out most of the movement taking place in the secondary market.
The level of support and infrastructure from public institutions have also been on the rise, with fairs like the Jakarta Biennale being able to secure both governmental and private funding to assemble an international-quality presentations. The government has also been more willing to allocate funding and support for Indonesian contemporary arts on an international level through grants and sponsorships. “We are encouraged by the developments in the market, and hope to see a continued rise in level of both government and private support to support in the evolution of the Indonesian art scene,” Charmie says.