Despite 2020’s challenges, Freeman’s achieves significant milestones


European Art auction at Freeman’s. Image courtesy of Freeman’s, Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – At the end of their 2020 sale season, Freeman’s is reflecting on 2020 and the number of company milestones achieved. By establishing a seamless transition from in-person to online-only sales and pivoting towards highly targeted digital marketing campaigns, the company set a high bar this year that they hope to surpass in 2021.

Despite the difficulties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent results were achieved throughout the year for signature auctions of American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists, Modern & Contemporary Art; as well as for newly-developed auctions such as the Luxe and Art + Design brands, which target new collectors.

Freeman’s Chairman, Alasdair Nichol, said: “We are exceptionally fortunate to have had such a successful year when we recognize that many businesses were and are struggling. Our thoughts and our support goes out to those who continue to suffer from the results of COVID-19, whether in their personal or professional lives. We are incredibly grateful to our entire team at Freeman’s for ensuring that we were able to deliver on what we promised to our consignors. We are grateful to our consignors for their continued trust in our ability to successfully sell their art.”

Moving from original headquarters at 1808 Chestnut to 2400 Market St.

In January 2020, after nearly 100 years at 1808 Chestnut Street, the auction house moved to a purpose-built gallery and office space in the Aramark Building which overlooks the Schuylkill River. The inaugural auction in this space was the house’s February European Art & Old Masters sale, which set the tone for the highly successful year.

 Pivoting fast from in-person to online-only auctions

In March 2020 it became apparent rather quickly that in-person auctions would be impossible to conduct until the pandemic was over. Freeman’s was one of the first houses that decided not to cancel or postpone the majority of their sales but instead to pivot to online-only auctions. The company achieved tremendous success as consignors maintained faith in the company despite much uncertainty and turmoil.


Freeman’s Marquee Design auction held on April 3, 2020 was among the company’s first to move to an online-only format. Bidders followed, and the sale took in more than $1.2M. Image courtesy of Freeman’s, Philadelphia

Starting March 2020, Freeman’s technical team was able to fully transfer to an online-only sales format. One of the first auctions in this format, the house’s marquee Design Auction, took place on April 3 and achieved over $1.2M, soaring past its pre-sale high estimate of $883.3K—less than 3 weeks after many businesses in Philadelphia closed their doors for lockdown.

Fine art single-owner collections achieve 100% sell-through rate

The following months saw success after success thanks to the new digital-only auction format combined with a completely overhauled marketing strategy which adapted to clients’ new requirements in this environment of unknown unknowns. Results were particularly impressive for four single-owner fine art collections this year which achieved a cumulative 100% sell-through rate and a total value of almost $3M.

Competitive bidding across an established national and global network remained consistent through the fall/winter season with back to back white glove auctions for single-owner collections including: The Collection of Dr. Henry & Mrs. Fannie Levine (Total Value for 46 Lots: $948,675); Variations on a Theme: 12 Bronzes of Ludwig van Beethoven by Antoine Bourdelle (Total Value for 12 Lots: $343,473); and Angels Representing Seven Churches: A Rediscovered Set of Windows by Tiffany Studios (Total Value for 1 Lot: $705,000).


Modern & Contemporary was one of several fine art categories that outperformed at Freeman’s in 2020. Image courtesy of Freeman’s Philadelphia

Modern & Contemporary art, American art, and Pennsylvania Impressionists continue to impress

The fine art sales in particular outperformed expectations with the 58 lot Modern & Contemporary Art auction in May achieving just shy of $1M with a 95% sell-through rate. This was followed by a spectacular result for the signature American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionist auction in June which realized over $2.85M for the 74 lot sale—including an exceptional result for the Pennsylvania Impressionists section which opened with 11 works from The Collection of Heidi Bingham Stott, totaling $1.3M with nearly 82% of the works selling above their pre-sale high estimates.

Last but not least: Freeman’s best fine art sale since 2004 achieves $5.2M

This season’s fine auctions culminated in the December 6 American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction, which realized over $5.2M—the best result for a sale of American Art that Freeman’s has ever recorded and the highest-selling Fine Art auction at the house since 2004. The beautifully curated auction, comprising 114 lots, achieved an impressive 93% sell-through rate overall and a 96% sell-through for the Pennsylvania Impressionists section.

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