The global economic slowdown combined with "selective demand" are pushing Christie's to seek more realistic prices on their collections, directors of the auction house said Sunday.
"This year the market is not at the same level as it was one year or two years ago. We are facing a more challenging market," Guillaume Cerruti, Christie's president for Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India, told journalists in Dubai.
"To face this situation, the key word for us is selectivity," he said, announcing two auctions this week in the glitzy Gulf emirate, one on Modern and Contemporary Art and another showcasing "Important Watches".
"We want to have sales that are well curated, sales with maybe less objects but of high quality at... realistic estimates," he said.
While he did not provide specific figures on the fall in overall sales, he said that online-only sales "have been a real success".
"For the first six months of the year, we have sold through our online-only sales of 20 million pounds ($24.4 million) around the world," a 100-percent over the same period of 2015, he added.
"We're making sure that we find good quality of works that are well priced to ride through this more challenging period," said Christie's Middle East managing director, Michael Jeha.
In an auction on Tuesday of 113 artworks, the highest estimated price has been set at $180,000, far lower than the $400,000 price tag on paintings sold in March this year.
Around 150 watches go up for auction on Wednesday, with estimated prices reaching $250,000.
Among them are two Patek Philippe 18K white gold automatic wristwatches with the Iraqi coat of arms and the name "Saddam", after executed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein who ordered the watches in 1974 and 1980 as gifts.
Their prices are estimated at $10,000 and $18,000 each.
London-based Christie's, which celebrates its 250th anniversary on December 5, says its sales at Dubai auctions have exceeded $300 million since it opened a branch in the emirate 10 years ago.