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Christie's says 2013 was record year for art sales

In a sign the economy is getting better for the world's wealthiest people, Christie's auction house said 2013 was a record year for art sales.

The London-based company said it sold $7.1 billion worth of art, jewelry and wine last year, a 16% increase from the year before.

That figure was a record high for Christie's and the highest total ever for an auction company, the auction house said in a news release.

"We continue to see a surge in interest across categories and across the globe, fueled in large part by the online platform enabling greater connectivity between buyers, sellers and the objects of their pursuit," Christie's Chief Executive Steven P. Murphy said.

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Christie's, which has offices in 32 countries, said it made strong gains in Asia, driven by a 32% surge in Hong Kong and an expansion into China, where it recorded a $24.9 million sale in Shanghai. The company also said sales were driven by a 30% increase in new buyers.

The largest sale of the year was the $142 million that someone paid to purchase Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," at a New York auction in November. The New York Times, citing "art world sources," said the buyer was Elaine Wynn, the former wife of casino mogul Steve Wynn. She had a net worth of $1.9 billion as of September, according to Forbes.

Other gargantuan sales included $58.4 million for Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog," $58.4 million for Jackson Pollock's "Number 19," $57.3 million for Andy Warhol's "Coca-Cola (3)" and $56.1 million for Roy Lichtenstein's "Woman with Flowered Hat."

For the year, Christie's handled 58 art sales in excess $10 million.


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