Christie’s auctions won the international revenue race in 2005. The increasingly formidable Zachys placed second. Sotheby’s finished third – but its sales were up more than 40%.

Worldwide sales were up by a third, producing at least $166,578,973, compared with the $128,623,150 generated in 2004.

Christie’s outpaced all competitors for the fourth straight year. Its 43 auctions fetched $42,158,972 (premiums included), up from 2004’s 42 sales, which yielded $36,367,940.

In the UK and Europe, 33 Christie’s sales totaled $24,295,843. In America, NYWines/Christie’s, finishing fifth in revenue ranking, held 10 sales totaling $15,628,592. This contrasted with 2004’s dozen sales totaling $14,667,249.

Zachys displayed further dynamism as America’s powerhouse. In Zachys’ third year in auctions, its eight New York and two (with Wally’s) Los Angeles auctions grossed $33,835,286 – significantly above $26,051,471 in 2004 and $15,345,164 in 2003. Consignors benefited as the percentage of lots sold rose to 96.78, up from 95.56 in 2004 and 94.36 in 2003.

Sotheby’s 16 sales worldwide brought $29,141,728, as against 15 in 2004 that generated $20,750,330. Six Aulden Cellars/Sotheby’s auctions in the US aggregated $18,597,374, compared with $12,594,181 that five auctions yielded in 2004.

In the UK, 10 Sotheby’s sales brought $10,544,357, as contrasted with the $8,153,682 that 10 delivered in 2004.

Acker Merrall & Condit’s 22 brick-and-mortar and online auctions grossed $20,881,008, its best year, up from $18,706,470 derived from 22 in 2004.

Internet auctions’ rising clout was illustrated by California-based WineBid.com, which specializes in them and reported $20 million, up from $16 million in 2004 and $14.7 million in 2003.

Four start-up sales by Hart Davis Hart, a new Chicago company, registered $9,503,414.

In San Francisco, Bonhams & Butterfields’ six auctions fetched $5,592,253, up from 2004’s six, which amassed $5,347, 970.

Morrell & Company’s four brick-and-mortar and online auctions brought $3,902,990; five in 2004 grossed $3,960,394.

With four sales bringing $1,563,322, Edward Roberts International, a small Chicago house established in 2001, had its best year. In 2004, five auctions accumulated $1,438,575.

NB all $ quoted are US$

US$1.00=€0.827

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York