Heritage Auctions announced today annual sales of more than $815 million in 2017, reflecting record increases across several departments and a 26 percent increase in online sales.
“Although our U.S. Coin sales declined, Heritage again outsold all other auction firms combined in that category,” said Co-Chairman James Halperin. “Meanwhile, 2017 was a tremendous year for expansion, profitability and growth across almost every other category we serve. We’ve become the world’s market leader in several fast-growing collectibles categories, strengthening our plans for global expansion.”
Increasing access to the firm’s 40 collecting categories, Heritage opened an office in Chicago and an office and gallery space in London, joining Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong in the firm’s international footprint. Auctions have originated in Hong Kong since 2015, and the firm will hold its first European Comics & Comic Art auction from its Netherlands saleroom in April.
Sales of U.S. Coins remain the firm’s largest category, with 2017 auction totals exceeding $169 million (an average of $306,000 in sales per week), outselling all other numismatic auction houses combined, according to the Professional Numismatists Guild 2017 annual survey. High-profile sales in World & Ancient Coins – one of the auction house’s fastest-growing categories – surpassed $49 million, the category’s second-best year ever.
Fast-growing collectibles categories posted year-over-year revenue increases while setting several world records, including:
- Heritage’s Sports Collectibles department cleared $100 million in total annual sales, setting a world record for the trade. Record sales include $2 million for Jackie Robinson’s 1947 Game-Worn Brooklyn Dodgers Rookie “Color Barrier” Jersey and $1.68 million for Norman Rockwell’s 1948 original study for Tough Call, a world record for the famed artist.
- Annual sales of comic books & comic art and animation art surpassed $48.2 million, a new ceiling for the trade and outselling all other auction competitors combined. The department set world records for the most valuable pieces of American comic art with the $717,000 sale of Robert Crumb’s original cover art for Fritz the Cat and the most valuable piece of 21st-century comic art when Joshua Middleton’s NYX #3 cover and concept art hammered for $71,700.
- Fine and rare wine sales recorded its best year to date, surpassing $14.1 million — a 29 percent increase. The department made market history when it sold one of the most expensive wine lots of the year for $152,500.
- Patrick Nagel’s Bold, circa 1980s, sold for a staggering $200,000, shattering the previous world auction record of $161,000 – one of many fine art auction records set in 2017.
- Auctions of vintage posters and movie posters exceeded $10 million in 2017 to lead the hobby, while setting a world record for the most valuable movie poster ever sold at auction when a 1931 one sheet from Dracula sold for $525,800.
High-growth strategies included:
- Online sales surging to an industry-leading $438 million in 2017, representing 53.7 percent of the firm’s total sales and eclipsing 2016’s online sales by 26 percent.
- A significant expansion of its San Francisco office to accommodate its growing staff and services. The new office will allow Heritage San Francisco to hold larger exhibitions of fine art by well-known artists as well as frequently changing displays.
- Making history as the first major house in decades to host an auction of Modern & Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The sale established the firm’s new presence in the Los Angeles art community and in the broader art market while setting world records for artists Paul Jenkins and Ray Johnson.
- The first time a major international auction house offered collectible sneakers, a bold move that resulted in a world record bid of $52,500 for a pair of Nike Air Mag self-lacing sneakers.
Heritage Auctions’ Make Offer to Owner Program Hits $10 Million Record
Heritage Auctions’ Make Offer to Owner (MOtO) service, a proprietary program in which clients make anonymous offers to purchase items previously sold at auction, enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2017 as sales surged to more than $10 million.
“This program combines two of the features clients consider most important: quickness and security,” Heritage Auctions Co-Chairman Jim Halperin said. “It allows a quick way for a customer to continue pursuit of a missed auction item, and does so through a safe, efficient process that benefits both sides of each transaction.”
The top seven MOtO sales yielded a six-figure return; seven of the top 10 lots sold during 2017 were sports collectibles and memorabilia.
Clients who enroll in Heritage’s MOtO program have the opportunity to bid on items in select auctions within 72 hours after the conclusion of the sale for all items that have been in inventory for more than 30 days. Those who make an anonymous offer will have their information transmitted by Heritage to the lot’s owner, who then has the option of accepting or rejecting the offer, or presenting a counteroffer for the MOtO client’s consideration. Heritage retains 10 percent of the total price as a commission and waives all credit card and/or PayPal fees. Transactions are managed through HA.com, which protects the privacy of all parties. Lots can be returned during a seven-day window, after which MOtO transactions are binding.
The top 10 MOtO lots from 2017 were:
- The 1964 American League Most Valuable Player award from the Brooks Robinson Collection, which sold for $202,000, marking a bump of nearly 24 percent over the original auction price
- Robert Crumb’s 1970 Complete Sketchbook Original Art, which sold through MOtO for $143,400, also representing a jump of nearly 24 percent over the original return
- A 1902-11 W600 Sporting Life Honus Wagner – Street Clothes SGC 60 EX 5 drew $135,000 – an increase of just over 38 percent
- A 1909-11 T206 Piedmont Walter Johnson Portrait PSA Mint 9, which sold for $125,000 (up 61 percent)
- The 1986 World Series Last-Out Baseball from The Gary Carter Collection realized $120,000, an increase of more than 67 percent
- A 1905-10 Honus Wagner Game Used Decal Bat, PSA/DNA GU 8, which went for $110,000, an increase of 119 percent
- A 1932 U.S. Caramel Babe Ruth #32 PSA NM-MT 8 brought $110,000, up from $83,650
- An 1881 $20 PR63 Ultra Cameo NGC that sold for $72,500, a jump of just over 80 percent from the original sale price
- A 1909-11 T206 Sweet Caporal Ty Cobb (Red Portrait) SGC 88 NM/MT 8 drew $65,000, an increase of more than 50 percent
- An 1895 $1 PR64 Cameo NGC went for $59,000, a jump of more than 18 percent