NEW YORK — Christie's wants to sell your mansion along with your Rembrandts.
The auction house announced Tuesday that it has acquired Santa Fe, N.M.-based Great Estates, an 8-year-old network of 7,000 brokers in North America, for $500,000, with an agreement to pay up to $2.6 million more, depending on profitability.
A $22-million horse ranch in California's Santa Ynez Valley and a $13-million, 25-room New York mansion are among the choice properties now for sale through Great Estates.
David Tyler, president of Christie's North and South American operations, said Christie's took the plunge into real estate after a long flirtation because of client demand and timeliness.
"For many years, a lot of clients have been saying they'd love us to offer their homes as well as their fine and decorative art," he told reporters in New York. "We've been serving that demand in a limited way," having recently sold homes owned by Frank Sinatra, Rudolf Nureyev, Dinah Shore and others.
The newly created company will be called Christie's Great Estates Inc., will be based in Santa Fe and will have 145 offices and 7,000 real estate agents. It will operate as a unit of Christie's International. Great Estates founder and President Kay Coughlin will be president of the new venture.
Coughlin said Great Estates brokers, who generated $10 billion in sales last year, sell property only at the highest end of the market. The company does not disclose profits.
The auction house just ended a round of auctions that offered welcome encouragement to a discouraged art world. A Van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse sold at prices that exceeded expectations, signaling the return of buyers.
Rival Sotheby's entered the high-end real estate market in 1976. It now has 190 affiliates worldwide and five Sotheby's real estate offices in the United States.
Tyler said Great Estates is a relatively small part of the auction house now but that the company hopes to double its affiliates to 150 in the next few years.