The top auction houses in Paris

Portail de chez Artcurial, une des maisons de ventes aux enchères de Paris

Sale at auction is an age-old practice that was already in existence back in ancient Rome. The way it works has barely changed since. The auctionatores, today’s auctioneers, would enter the bids via a crier in the atrium auctionarium, the auction room. Centuries later, in the 18th century, Paris became the art capital of the world, and was forever to remain such a powerhouse. Today’s auction houses have streamlined their protocols thanks to digitalisation. The art market is peaking and thriving, online and offline. More than half of global fine art value is accounted for by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The world’s auction sales are shared between Asia, France, the UK and the US.

The two absolutely quintessential auction houses

The renown of the auction houses Sotheby’s et Christie’s has endured for centuries. However, it was not until 1999 and 2001 that the two undisputed leaders in (freely decided upon) auction sales of rare objects and fine art each opened auction rooms in Paris.

 

Sotheby’s in Paris is run by an expert in furniture and decorative art

Mario Tavella has spent his entire career at Sotheby’s and has developed thorough expertise in decorative art and period furniture. His knowledge enables him to identify priceless pieces, which he auctions off at private sales. He was behind the sale at auction of the collections of Karl Lagerfeld, Gianni Versace, Bruni-Tedeschi, Dimitri Mavrommatis, Pierre Bergé and many other famous names.
Sotheby’s provides its partner galleries, sellers and buyers with online marketplace services, auction rooms, showrooms and custom financing. Sotheby’s focuses primarily on the megatransaction segment.

Sotheby’s is located at 76 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. Just opposite the presidential palace.

 

Christie’s in Paris: the gateway to the international art network

Thanks to the hundred or so experts working for Christie’s in France, art from all over the world has become accessible to collectors. Founded in 1766, in its time, Christie’s has sold the Countess du Barry’s jewellery collection and Sir Walpole’s collection of paintings to Catherine II of Russia.
These days, the auction house specialises in gold, jewellery, contemporary paintings and photographs, manuscripts, furniture and objets d’art.

Christie’s is housed in a mansion spanning some 4,500 m2 located at 9 rue Matignon, a stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysées. Seven showrooms and two auction rooms allow auctions to be held on site or online. Collectors or artists can drop off a work of art in Paris and receive a valuation from a specialist based on the other side of the world in record time.

 

Artcurial: France’s largest auction house

Following suit with its two UK-based peers, Artcurial opened in Paris in 2002. On the Board of Directors was the elite of French entrepreneurship: the Dassault family. Its Chairman, Nicolas Orlowski, was a very well-known player in the luxury segment.
The auction house set itself apart instantly thanks to its unusual specialties: Design and Street Art.
Thanks to the acquisition of John Taylor, the benchmark player in luxury real estate, Artcurial has a strong presence on the Côte d’Azur and in Monaco. Where the markets for both art and high-end real estate are booming.

Artcurial is located at 7 rond-point des Champs-Elysées, in the heart of the antique shop district of Paris.

If you’re a fan of street art, take a trip to Fluctuart, a unique venue offering an artistic experience on the Seine.

 

France’s two independent auction houses

These two auction houses were actually the forerunners of auction houses in France. Millon opened (under the name of Robert) in 1928 and Aguttes in 1974.

Millon: a specialist in thoroughbreds and works by outlier artists

Millon is well known for having sold works by little-known artists who have since become household names, and can take the credit for the trade of a great many Modern Art paintings. This is down to a tradition of publishing its own catalogues presenting unusual listings, and the sneak previews that made its name.
Founder and auctioneer Robert started up the trade in yearlings in France, then met Millon, also an auctioneer, who put together the management team of Drouot. Between them, they consolidated their four pillars, Modern Art, Art Nouveau-Art Deco, Luxury Jewellery and classic furniture. Henceforth they are adding to these with comic strips.

A world unto itself, in Paris, with two auction houses and an appraisal office. The oldest of these is at 5 avenue d’Eylau in the 16th arrondissement, by the Trocadéro.

 

Aguttes: the oddball in Neuilly-sur-Seine

The auction house was founded in 1974 par Claude Aguttes, an auctioneer by trade. It has remained family-owned and is now Europe’s top auction house, with turnover of 86 million euros.
Conveniently located in the highly sought-after west of Paris, the building hosts sales and exhibitions. More than half of the clientele is international and the remainder French.
Aguttes has a historic “instruments and bows” division, which sold a Guarneri dating back to 1736. Belonging to violinist and actor David Garrett (who plays Paganini brilliantly in “The Devil’s Violinist”), it went for 3.4 million euros.

You will find the Aguttes auction house at 164 bis avenue Charles de Gaulle, in Neuilly (Hauts-de-Seine).

 

Drouot: the world’s oldest auction house

What makes Drouot so well known? Well, its first auction house was inaugurated in 1852, and has housed the Paris Chamber of Auctioneers since it first opened. Drouot is known in Paris and internationally as a venue for public and private auctions, online and on site.
The building is made up of 15 auction rooms used by some sixty auction houses. Making it a magnet for bidders and sellers. Some 3,000 people come through its doors every day.

The auction house offering a range of services is located at 9 rue Drouot, just next to the Millon auction house.

 

Art aficionados visiting Paris

You’ll get a good deal of inspiration from perusing the catalogues of the various auction houses that we’ve selected due to their renown, their expertise and the recognised professionalism of their auctioneers. So on a French-style shopping day in the streets of Paris you can acquire a painting, a piece of antique furniture or a rare comic strip while touring the capital’s most splendid neighbourhoods.

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