Christie's fought the trend and walked away with close to $94 million. Naysayers stand shocked (I'll admit it; I'm among them). This is still far from the record-setting years leading up to the current financial crisis, but only the truly stubborn would not recognize the accomplishment of coming close to the upper end of the auction house's estimate, particularly a day after competitor Sotheby's turned in such a dismal performance.
The initial estimate for Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale was $71.5 million to $104.5 million. Forty-nine of the 54 available lots were sold – a sales rate of 91 percent by lot and 94 percent by value. This easily tops the 81 percent by lot that Sotheby's hit (en route to a paltry $47 million). Thirty of the lots sold for more than $1 million each, and nine raked in more than $3 million a piece.
If you want to be negative, though, you still have plenty of ammo. Back in November, Christie's achieved a $113.6 million take with a sale rate of only 68 percent (by lot). A year ago, the auction house pulled in $331.4 million at a sale rate of 95 percent.
But, last May doesn't count. That was a last hurrah, of sorts, and most in the art community realized it, even if they wouldn't concede the obvious.