What is Christie's selling? A web-scraping project

Linlin Cheng
Posted on Aug 21, 2016


Introduction: Who is Christie's?

Christie's Auction House has been in the art business since the 18th Century. First launched in central London and then spread out to the world (See Figure.1), Christie's has succeeded in engaging the connoisseur’s interest with the excitement of an auction format.


Figure 1. Christie's Auction Events by Places

Like many other firms, Christie's went through a period of ups and downs in the late 90’s and again in 2008.  In both cases, however, Christie’s recovered and has shown relatively steady growth. Aside from classical auctions, the company has also extended its business into private transactions and a wider category of art. See Figure 2. for a word cloud of Christie's sales event titles.

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 3.22.48 PM

Figure 2. What is Christie's Selling?

This project focuses on analyzing the sales data from Christie's Auction houses using a dataset built from Christie's official website.  Since the dataset is not publicly available, this project also presents the web-scraping code that I used.

Analysis: Sales: A Global View


Figure 3. Christie's Global Sales. Aggregate nominal revenue is adjusted for exchange rate using FX on Aug.14th. The sales revenue for 2016 is incomplete as of July, 2016.

As a transaction intermediary with a fine reputation, Christie's Auction House slices off a significant amount of money as commission: it charges 25 percent for the first $75,000; 20 percent on the next $75,001 to $1.5 million and 12 percent for revenue above $1.5 million. Christie's global sales revenue corresponds well with the overall trend of the global economy: when the economy was booming in early 2000s, the art business grew steadily. When the subprime crisis occurred in 2008, Christie's sales witnessed a plummet of around 50%.   As stated above, it resumed healthy growth subsequently.


Figure 4. Number of Events by Houses Over Time: All available observations.

Despite a drop in the number of events in its main office in London in more recent years, Christie's offices in the two London offices remain the busiest venues among the rest in terms of total number of events held. In addition, the auction house signed a 30-year lease for its Rockefeller office in New York and opened a number of sub-branches to accommodate the ever growing demand from the American market.

Figure 3. Total Number of Events for 1998 ~2016

Figure 5. Top 5 Locations by Total Number of Events for 1998 ~2016

Methodology: Web-Scraping Code

The following code presents a method to construct a database for Christie's event list:


After scraping through the website, I used the following code to transfer the list of dictionaries into a .csv file that can be easily processed in R:


The output comes in a neat format with 10090 observations of events with related ID, Name of Events, Location, Date, Total Sales, and urls that directly link to the auctioned item lists for each of the events.

In the third step, I used Selenium to imitate a click to loop through urls for each of the events to access another set of urls for each of the items:


In the last step, the following code proposes a way to build a dictionary set of each of the auctioned items,  similar of the one obtained in Step 1:


Further Research

While this app is limited to auction events, a next step would be to include item lists as well.   A quick test run on the first hundred event urls indicate that the code proposed is feasible to construct this kind of database for the past auctioned items.



About Author

Leave a Comment

No comments found.

View Posts by Categories

Our Recent Popular Posts

View Posts by Tags

#python #trainwithnycdsa 2019 airbnb Alex Baransky alumni Alumni Interview Alumni Reviews Alumni Spotlight alumni story Alumnus API Application artist aws beautiful soup Best Bootcamp Best Data Science 2019 Best Data Science Bootcamp Best Data Science Bootcamp 2020 Best Ranked Big Data Book Launch Book-Signing bootcamp Bootcamp Alumni Bootcamp Prep Bundles California Cancer Research capstone Career Career Day citibike clustering Coding Course Demo Course Report D3.js data Data Analyst data science Data Science Academy Data Science Bootcamp Data science jobs Data Science Reviews Data Scientist Data Scientist Jobs data visualization Deep Learning Demo Day Discount dplyr employer networking feature engineering Finance Financial Data Science Flask gbm Get Hired ggplot2 googleVis Hadoop higgs boson Hiring hiring partner events Hiring Partners Industry Experts Instructor Blog Instructor Interview Job Job Placement Jobs Jon Krohn JP Morgan Chase Kaggle Kickstarter lasso regression Lead Data Scienctist Lead Data Scientist leaflet linear regression Logistic Regression machine learning Maps matplotlib Medical Research Meet the team meetup Networking neural network Neural networks New Courses nlp NYC NYC Data Science nyc data science academy NYC Open Data NYCDSA NYCDSA Alumni Online Online Bootcamp Online Training Open Data painter pandas Part-time Portfolio Development prediction Prework Programming PwC python Python Data Analysis python machine learning python scrapy python web scraping python webscraping Python Workshop R R language R Programming R Shiny r studio R Visualization R Workshop R-bloggers random forest Ranking recommendation recommendation system regression Remote remote data science bootcamp Scrapy scrapy visualization seaborn Selenium sentiment analysis Shiny Shiny Dashboard Spark Special Special Summer Sports statistics streaming Student Interview Student Showcase SVM Switchup Tableau team TensorFlow Testimonial tf-idf Top Data Science Bootcamp twitter visualization web scraping Weekend Course What to expect word cloud word2vec XGBoost yelp