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Heritage Auctions Sees Fine & Decorative Arts Record in 2012

Photograph from The North American Indian by Edward Curtis at Heritage Auctions

Photograph from The North American Indian by Edward Curtis at Heritage Auctions

A remarkable success story took place in 2012 at Heritages Auctions’ Design District Annex where auction sales in the company’s Department of Fine & Decorative Arts grew 20% in 2012 to exceed $45.5 million – the category’s best year ever.

Sales of Western and Texas Art more than tripled in 2012, solidifying Heritage as a leader in the category with $10.4 million in total sales. Likewise, Heritage’s antiques and decorative arts sales grew 32% to exceed $7.27 million – highlighted by the largest single collection of Lalique offered at auction at one time, which realized $1.6 million.

Heritage, overall, experienced its fourth straight year of record sales in 2012: more than $860 million, the highest tally yet for the world’s third largest auction house and largest auctioneer of high-end collectibles. Markets ranging from U.S. Coins, Comics and Comic Art and Historical Americana showed strong gains as did sales of Western Art, which more than tripled over last year.

“Heritage is attracting new buyers across more categories than ever before,” said Steve Ivy, Co-Chairman and CEO of Heritage Auctions. “Both consigners and collectors alike can use our services with the utmost trust, transparency and accessibility.”

U.S. Coins remains the core of Heritage’s business with a record $218.68 million in sales in 2012, including $174.51 million sold during Signature® Auctions. World and Ancient coin sales have seen stunning growth over the last four years and increased an impressive 40% to $37.2 million last year – a record achievement bolstered by growth across the board.

Its growing comic book and comic art department saw its fourth record year in a row with sales exceeding $37 million, including Weekly Comic Internet-only auctions which realized $7.4 million – a new record for the subset and a 17% increase over 2011. Heritage’s Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auctions recorded $27.98 million in sales, highlighted by the $657,250 sale of Todd McFarlane’s original cover from The Amazing Spider-Man #328 and the first Calvin and Hobbes Sunday comic strip ever sold at auction, which brought $204,150, as well as by the company’s August auction, which topped $10.4 million to stand as the highest grossing comic auction ever.

“Diversification and has been key to our success,” Ivy said. “We’re proud to offer Heritage as a one-stop trusted platform for selling diversified, high value collections and estates. We’re the largest auction house capable of delivering success to every aspect of a collection and are honored to help so many wonderful consignors attain record prices for their precious objects.”

Heritage retained its title as the world’s largest seller of sports memorabilia in 2012 after closing the year with more than $20 million in sales, including private treaty transactions. In August, Heritage offered a set of baseball cards from 1910 popularly referred to as the “Black Swamp Find.” Found covered in soot in an attic in Defiance, Ohio, the first 37 cards brought $566,131. In May, Heritage auctioned the baseball that rolled between the legs of first baseman Bill Buckner at the 1986 World Series, allowing the New York Mets to win in the 10th inning, for $418,250.

It also was a record year for sales of rare books and manuscripts, with $7.27 million, led by impressive growth in Weekly Internet Rare Books auctions.

Heritage’s budding Luxury Accessories department redefined the category in 2012 with $5.12 million in sales, including a record $3.2 million Handbags & Luxury Accessories Signature® Auction, featuring the world’s most exclusive handbag: an Hermès Diamond Birkin, which realized more than $100,000. Luxury Weekly Vintage Internet auctions realized $677,000+ – delivering an average of $700 per lot sold in 2012 and establishing itself as a seamless and affordable entry point to the market.

During 2012, Heritage again invested in technology to make bidding easier on HA.com and though HeritageLive!, its proprietary bidding software. Clients may now sign in using PayPal, the most popular payment methods used by collectors on mobile devices. Clients also may now request text messages to their smartphones when lots they are bidding on, tracking or consigning are coming up for auction.

The growth has sparked expansion in staff at the firm’s Dallas headquarters as well as its locations in New York, San Francisco and Beverly Hills. Additional positions have recently opened in the areas of 20th Century Design, Vintage Firearms, Trusts & Estates and Coins and Currency. A full list may be found on Heritage’s career portal.

Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of more than $800 million, and 750,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com

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