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Sotheby's 2018 Auctions Reach $5.3 Billion Worldwide -- A 12% Increase Over 2017

NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

50,000+ Lots Are Sold Across 400+ Live & Online-Only Auctions and A Record 10,000+ New Bidders Are Welcomed

Online Buyers Spend More Than $200 Million This Year – 26% of All Lots Sold in 2018 are Purchased Online & Online-Only Sales Triple in Value

Sotheby's Leads Asia for the Third Year in a Row With Auction Sales of $1 Billion
The Highest Total in Sotheby's 45-year History in Asia

Sotheby's Wine Sales Cross $100 Million For The First Time and are Highlighted by the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine: 1 Bottle of Romanée-Conti DRC 1945 Sells for $558,000

Sotheby's France Achieves Highest Total Since the Opening of the French Market –
41 Auctions, Including 20 Single-Owner Sales, Total €251.4 Million and
Half of All Buyers are New to Sotheby's France

Top Lot of the Year at Any Auction House:
Amedeo Modigliani's Nu couché Achieves $157.2 Million,
the Highest Auction Price in Sotheby's History

Sotheby's Achieves Auction Records for
René Magritte, Kerry James Marshall, Oskar Kokoschka, Jenny Saville, Zao Wou-Ki, Any Car,
Any Pearl, Any Bottle of Wine, Any Book Illustration, Any Buddhist Manuscript,
Any Living Female Artist, Any Painting Sold in Europe

WATCH: 2018 at Sotheby's – A Look Back

Sotheby’s 2018 auctions concluded this week, reaching a total of $5.3 billion, a 12% increase over 2017. Amedeo Modigliani’s ‘Reclining Nude’ achieved the top price of any auction house in 2018 selling for $157.2 million.

Sotheby's concluded our 2018 auctions this week, reaching an annual sales total of $5.3 billion that represents a 12% increase over our 2017 results. From the sale of Amedeo Modigliani's Nu couché for $157.2 million – the highest auction price in Sotheby's history – to the historic jewels of Marie Antoinette, below is a look back at the major moments that helped define the year at Sotheby's.


  • New world auction record for any single bottle of Japanese whisky: the Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky Aged 50 Years NV sells for HK$2.3 million / $298,879.


  • The highest price for any painting ever sold at auction in Europe: Pablo Picasso's Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) makes auction debut to sell for £49.8 million / $69.2 million.
  • To celebrate the first anniversary of its London salon, Sotheby's Diamonds unveils for private sale the rarest white diamond ever to come to the market. At 102.34 carats, the stone is the only known round brilliant-cut diamond over 100 carats to have achieved perfection in all critical criteria: colour, clarity, cut and carat.


  • Peter Doig's landscape painting The Architect's Home in the Ravine sells for £14.4 million / $19.9 million, one of only four works made for his breakthrough Whitechapel show in 1991.
  • Sotheby's sets a world record for any wine sales series when two days of auctions in Hong Kong bring a combined total of HK$228.3 million / $29.1 million. Comprising 1,758 lots, The Philanthropist's Cellar, The Cellar from the Estate of Jerry Perenchio, and Finest & Rarest Wines are 100% sold.


  • Qing Dynasty Gold-Pink Falangcai Bowl sells for HK$239 million / $30.4 million. Two sets of Ming Dynasty Imperial sutras achieve HK$239 million / $30.4 million, a new auction record for a Buddhist manuscript.
  • Rare elephant bird egg, one of a few remaining in private hands, sells for HK$350,000 / $44,597.


  • The highest auction price in Sotheby's history: Amedeo Modigliani's Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) sells for $157.2 million. Modigliani becomes the first artist to cross the $150 million auction threshold twice.
  • Kerry James Marshall's Past Times, the most significant work by the renowned artist to ever come to market, sells for $21.1 million, quadrupling Marshall's previous auction record of $5 million.
  • Forty-two donated works raise $20.2 million for the Studio Museum in Harlem.
  • The Farnese Blue, one of the foremost historic diamonds, sells for CHF 6.7 million / $6.7 million, after 300 years in the same family.


  • Sotheby's sets a new record for any Chinese porcelain sold at auction in France when a lost treasure of Imperial China found in an attic in France sells for €16.2 million / $19 million. The exceptionally rare 18th-century Imperial Yangcai Famille-Rose porcelain vase was brought into Sotheby's Paris by its unsuspecting owners in a shoe box.
  • Lucian Freud's late masterpiece Portrait on a White Cover (2002-3) sells for £22.5 million / $29.8 million in its auction debut, the most valuable work by the artist ever to be sold in London.
  • Sotheby's and Victoria Beckham open a first of its kind collaborative exhibition in which 16 highlights from Sotheby's Old Master Paintings sale are presented in the contemporary setting of Victoria Beckham's Dover Street store in Mayfair.
  • Sotheby's Wine unveils Instant Cellars, a one-click service that delivers a curated wine collection overnight, and Collection Management & Advisory, providing unrivalled expertise in building and maintaining world-class wine collections.
  • A working autograph manuscript of "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen – the beginnings of the hit anthem that catapulted The Boss into the rock-and-roll stratosphere – sells for $250,000.


  • A rare portrait of a Venetian Nobleman by Sir Peter Paul Rubens sells for £5.4 million / $7.2 million. The painting was unveiled in Dubai in March, making it the first Old Master painting ever exhibited by Sotheby's in the Middle East.
  • New auction record set for any book illustration, when the original map of Winnie-the-Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood by E.H. Shepard sells for £430,000 / $572,889. Possibly the most famous map in children's literature, this charming sketch from 1926 was unseen for nearly half a century.
  • New auction record established for Antonio Canova, the great Neoclassical sculptor, when his long-lost 'Bust of Peace' sells for £5.3 million / $7 million.


  • A new record for the most valuable car ever sold at auction: RM Sotheby's sells Ferrari 250 GTO for $48.4 million, at $158 million Monterey sale.


  • The most valuable painting sold by any auction house in Hong Kong: Zao Wou-Ki's Juin-Octobre 1985 sells for HK$510 million / $65 million.
  • 'Yellow Ball: The Frank and Lorna Dunphy Collection', an auction celebrating one of the most extraordinary art world collaborations of our times – that of Damien Hirst and his business manager, mentor and 'partner in crime', Frank Dunphy – brings total of £10.4 million / $13.7 million.
  • 'Cinématographe Lumière', the world's first film poster, sells for £160,000 in online-only sale of Original Film Posters.


  • The highest total for any sale of house contents at Sotheby's France: the sale of the contents of Pierre Bergé's last residences – Rue Bonaparte, Mas Théo, Villa Mabrouka, La Datcha – totals €27.5 million / $31.3 million. The two-day auction is 100% sold, with 95% of lots surpassing their pre-sale high-estimates.
  • A new auction record for any living female artist: Jenny Saville's Propped sells for £9.5 million / $12.4 million. The painting was one of 50 artworks sold in Sotheby's Frieze Week sales from the collection of art world luminary David Teiger.
  • World auction record for a single bottle of wine of any size: two exceptional bottles of Romanée Conti 1945 sell for $558,000 and $496,000, respectively. The wines were offered as part of a 'white-glove' (100% sold) auction of rare Domaine de la Romanée-Conti emerging from the personal cellar of Robert Drouhin, which totaled $7.3 million – more than five times its high estimate.
  • The copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence carried into court by the judge presiding over most celebrated obscenity trial in British literary history, sells for £56,250 / $71,809, establishing an auction record for a Penguin paperback.
  • An exceptional early Iznik charger sells for £5.4 million / $6.9 million following a 20-minute bidding battle – quadruple the previous record for Iznik pottery and among the four highest prices for any Islamic work of art.
  • Creating a Stage: The Collection of Marsha and Robin Williams achieves $6.1 million, exceeding its high estimate of $4.6 million. The 300+ works spanned the diverse interests and careers of the beloved entertainer and his wife of 20 years, film producer and philanthropist Marsha Garces Williams
  • The most valuable wristwatch sold at auction in Asia: Patek Philippe Pink Gold Ref 2499 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Wristwatch with Moon Phases achieves HK$23.5 million / $3 million.
  • In October we announced the launch of Sotheby's Home, an online consignment marketplace specializing in vintage and antique furniture, decorative objects and accessories. Sotheby's Home connects collectors and design lovers with an approachable new platform to buy furniture, art and home décor from showrooms, dealers, interior designers and private individuals.


  • A billion dollar week of auctions at Sotheby's worldwide:  1,675 lots sold across 12 sales in New York, Geneva, London and Paris.  19 lots exceed $10 million, 10 lots exceed $20 million.
  • René Magritte's record-breaking Surrealist masterpiece, Le Principe du Plaisir (The Pleasure Principle) – a portrait of the artist's patron Edward James – leads Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art and sells for $26.8 million following a seven-way bidding battle.
  • Historic record for a sale of Royal jewels: 100 Treasures from the Bourbon Parma Family are 100% sold for CHF 53.5 million / $53.1 million. Queen Marie Antoinette's pearl sells for CHF 36.4 million / $36.2 million, tripling the previous auction record for a natural pearl.
  • The most valuable wristwatch ever sold at Sotheby's: "The Asprey" sets a record for a Patek Philippe Reference 2499 at CHF 3.9 million / $3.9 million.
  • The largest single transaction at Sotheby's Wine Retail worldwide: collection of Methuselahs of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2005 sells for HK$11.8 million / US$1.5 million at Sotheby's Wine Retail in Hong Kong.
  • Boundless India, Sotheby's inaugural auction in Mumbai achieves a total of INR 55.40 crores / US$ 7.9 million, led by seminal works by Tyeb Mehta and Amrita Sher-Gil.
  • Sotheby's inaugural watches sale in the Middle East totals $2.6 million in Dubai.
  • Sotheby's holds its first Japanese Art sale in over a decade and achieves a world auction record for an Imperial Presentation work of art from the Meiji period with a pair of magnificent lacquer screens, which sell for £730,000 / $954,475.
  • The Hermès Handbags & Accessories Online sale encompasses over 100 lots from a single private collection assembled over the course of a lifetime, and features silk scarves, jewellery, clothing, riding boots and hats, as well as limited edition handbags including several of famed Kelly and Birkin design.


  • Rare oil sketch by Rembrandt measuring just over ten inches sells for £9.5 million ($12.1 million), the equivalent of £118,362 per square inch.
  • In Miami, (RED), Sotheby's and Gagosian raise $5.5 million to support the fight against AIDS at the third (RED) Auction which totalled $10.5 million, including matching funds by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Curated by art and architecture stars Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye OBE in collaboration with musician and activist Bono, the auction features contemporary art and design donated by prominent creators.
  • Sales of Lady Blue Eyes: Property of Barbara and Frank Sinatra total $9.2 million, with a 99% sell-through rate across three auctions.
  • Sotheby's announces the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures as the winner of the 2018 Sotheby's Prize, which, in its second year, continues to celebrate curatorial excellence and champion the work of innovative institutions who strive to break new ground and challenge our understanding of art today. 
  • Sotheby's 50th anniversary exhibition in Milan opens.

About Sotheby's

Sotheby's has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby's became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby's presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby's BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Sotheby's offers collectors the resources of Sotheby's Financial Services, the world's only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection, artist, estate & foundation advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby's presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby's Global Fine Art Division, and three retail businesses: Sotheby's Wine, Sotheby's Diamonds, and Sotheby's Home, the online marketplace for interior design. Sotheby's has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID).

*Estimates do not include buyer's premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer's premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

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New York | +1 212 606 7176 | Lauren Gioia | Lauren.Gioia@Sothebys.com | Darrell Rocha | Darrell.Rocha@Sothebys.com  
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