Our econometric department of the art market offers spot-on indicators to bring you clear information and help you in your decisions.
Throughout 2016, auction operators have demonstrated their capacity to stimulate demand despite a climate of uncertainty. China has managed to stabilise its auction turnover, while the West saw its highest level of transactions ever recorded (398,000 lots sold). In both the East and the West, a focus on consolidating the core of the market took priority over the race towards new auction records.
This market configuration owed much to an intensification of competition between the market’s different players that has, in turn, led to a more stable and solid market environment. In 2014, Sotheby’s yielded to pressure from its shareholders, including hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb. After 34 years of loyal service (including 14 as CEO), William Ruprecht handed the reins to businessman Tad Smith. At Christie’s, a series of CEOs from major industrial groups have attempted to make the organisation ever more efficient: Steven Murphy in 2010, Patricia Barbizet in 2014, Guillaume Cerutti in 2016. An acceleration of personnel changes in key positions also reflected the tougher competitive environment, initially at the auction houses, and then later throughout the Art market as a whole. In December, Brett Govry defected as head of Postwar and Contemporary art at Christie’s to join the Galérie Dominique Lévy.
Today, the Art Market’s dependence on the financial sector is palpable at nearly every level. Recall that major banks (UBS, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, etc.) have become powerful partners in major artistic events (art fairs, biennials, exhibitions, awards, etc.) that substantially influence the success and prices of artists. Meanwhile a number of major multinational corporations are actively enhancing their public images by partnering with artistic causes, or by building their own exhibition centres, like the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
The upper echelons of the Art world are nowadays intimately connected with industrial and financial power whose requirements have given the market a new level of efficiency. The result is that every item in the major players’ cost & income statements is being carefully scrutinised. During his first year at the head of Sotheby’s, the new CEO Tad Smith imposed a vigorous voluntary departure plan. The firm has also adjusted its buyer’s premiums twice over the last two years and we are seeing a multiplication of the incentives used to convince buyers and sellers of artworks: guarantees, online auctions, etc...
Ranking of the Top 500 artists by auction turnover
In 2016 the ranking saw a lot of movement. It is now essentially composed of 41% European artists, 30% Chinese artists, 15% Americans artists and 15% other nationalities.
The complete Art Market in 2016 (Annual Report by Artprice.com) is available online: https://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-art-market-in-2016
On the whole, the Contemporary art market is substantially profitable over the medium and long terms. Despite several adjustments and corrections, our price index shows that the segment has retained the vitality it acquired in the early 2000s. Its 1,370% turnover growth in 16 years reflects an extremely dynamic market.
The chronique financial and economic crisis affecting the world since 2007, prompting widespread recourse to negative rates, has made the Art Market look like an oasis in the desert. According to thierry Ehrmann, Artprice's founder and CEO, the market is undergoing an orderly period of adjustment that was both necessary and predictable, and Contemporary Art has clearly occupied the center stage.
Contemporary art will always be the art market’s infrathin: constantly criticised for its record auction prices, its difficulty of interpretation and its inherently subversive nature. In many respects its critics are unwittingly key contributors to the Contemporary art market, and Marcel Duchamp’s understanding of the fusional relationship between the market and its detractors is still perfectly relevant.
Hence the annual evolution of our world ranking of the top 500 artists by auction turnover - who all enjoy relatively robust and firmly established markets - clearly shows a coherent and structured market as well as revealing the preferences of collectors and art professionals.
In buying Contemporary works of art, collectors and art consumers consciously accept that they cannot know what History will make of the artists they acquire. However, the last sixteen years have shown that a well-diversified portfolio of Contemporary artworks generates an annual yield of 5.6%, higher than the art market as a whole.
Do not forget: The Top 500 Contemporary artists:
The individual auction performances of the world’s Top 500 artists paints an interesting picture of the Contemporary art market. Although it is dominated by the major American signatures, the ranking reflects the diversity of the market’s offer and indicates the latest preferences of collectors. Korean, Filipino and Cuban artists were particularly present last year.
The Artprice Contemporary Art Market Annual Report (2015/2016) is freely available at the following link: http://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-contemporary-art-market-report-2016
Worldwide, more than 252,000 Fine Art lots were sold in the first six months of 2016, generating a total turnover of $6.53 billion (including fees). Artprice, world leader in Art Market information since 1987, has systematically analysed over 3500 auction sales to produce a detailed half-year report covering public auctions of Fine Art (painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, printmaking and installations).
Transactions rose 3.2% while sales turnover dropped -25%, almost entirely due to a reduced offer of major masterpieces (works priced over $10 million) in all artistic periods.
According to thierry Ehrmann, Artprice’s founder and CEO, with its overall economy on
meltdown watch for a number of semesters, China had been expected to lose its ‘soft power’
battle with the United States on the global art market this year. Its return to the global
leader position with a turnover up by more than $570 million is therefore a major
Another surprise on the global art market has been the generally low unsold rate and the dynamic pace of transaction growth, both clearly demonstrating the art market’s capacity for adjustment and safe-haven attractiveness compared with financial markets and standard investment returns.
In 2015, the United States recovered its leading position on the global art auction
market after losing it to China for five years. China still has by far the strongest
market for Old Master art in the world. In the global competition for cultural influence,
art represents a key factor in what is nowadays referred to as Soft Power, and in a number
of countries, this power is actively pursued (e.g. the United States, China and, on another
So this is the macro and micro-economic basis of today's Art Market: a market that has emerged for the last 16 years as a safe haven against economic and financial instability, with substantial and recurring returns.
Against a backdrop of negative interest rates and contracting stock markets, the Art Market looks remarkably healthy with its Contemporary segment alone posting a 1,200% progression of annual turnover over the past 16 years and a +43% linear progression of the average value of an artwork. These returns are not limited to star signatures; in fact our data shows that works valued at above $20,000 already generate significant annual yields of 9%.
The Art Market is an efficient, historical and global market whose ability to withstand
economic and geopolitical crises is well established.
Art prices keep changing scale. Topping at around the $10 million threshold in the 1980s and then reaching the $100 million bar in the 2000s, the New York Times reported the sale of a Gauguin painting to a Qatari buyer for over $300 million (NYT, 5 February 2015). Artprice believes it will not be long before the billion-dollar threshold is crossed.
In 2016 the Art Market has already demonstrated that it has moved into a higher gear after a private sale organised by Christie's generated $500 million, including $200 million for a Jackson Pollock canvas and $300 million for a painting by Willem de Kooning, equalling last year's Gauguin record.
The Art Auction Market: Art Market News / Three works fetched over $100 million / Key Figures
/ The Chinese Art Market / Leading marketplaces and geostrategic competition...
Download now: Artprice's Global Art Market Annual Report for 2015 >>>
New York - the Mecca of Contemporary art
The United States has recovered its leader position on the global Contemporary art market, resuscitating the fierce competition with China. In total the United States generated $650 million from Contemporary art, nearly $90 million more than China. This strong performance was essentially driven by New York, the global capital of the art market. New York is home to the biggest art collectors, the most powerful galleries and the most prestigious museums. It also has the strongest networks, allowing the fastest emergence of young artists in the world.
China slows, but remains potent
The contraction of the Chinese Contemporary art market (-36.9%), with turnover of $542 million versus $860 million the previous year, is indeed substantial. However the slowdown seems to have been largely triggered by a combination of exogenous factors, first among which is undoubtedly the drastic anti-corruption drive initiated by President Xi Jinping which temporarily paralysed the country’s luxury goods sectors and its art market. In the absence of clear legal definitions, a large section of the PRC’s wealthy population has temporarily refrained from making “extravagant” acquisitions. At the same time, the contraction of the Chinese art market has a number of similarities with the recent evolution of Chinese stock markets and it has mirrored a sharp slowdown in China’s economic growth that reached its lowest level in 25 years at end-2014. In short, economic reality has inevitably had an impact on the country’s art market. However, it is also valid to consider the slowdown as a natural adjustment to the phenomenal growth by the Chinese art market in recent years.
Europe’s turnover largely dependent on London
European artists are well represented on the global auction market. Generating a quarter of global Contemporary art auction turnover, they account for a larger share than Chinese artists. After the Americans and the Chinese, the best performing nationalities on the Contemporary art auction market are the Germans (10.8% of the market), followed by the British (10.7%), the Italians (2.6%), the Japanese (2%), the Indians (1.5%), the Swiss (0.9%), the Brazilians (0.8%) and the French (0.8%).
The Contemporary Art Auction Market: Key Figures / Career Paths / Major Prizes / Focus on the
Art Photography Market...
Download now: The complete Contemporary Art Market Report 2015 >>>
thierry Ehrmann, the CEO and founder of Artprice:
Artprice.com is pleased to present its eighth exclusive report on the contemporary art
Download it now on Artprice for free:
It contains original rankings, such as the Top 500 contemporary artists according to turnover.
Artprice permanently enriches its databanks with information from 4,500 auctioneers and it publishes a constant flow of art market trends for the world's principal news agencies and approximately 6,300 international press publications.
Record-breaking year for the Contemporary Art market, with revenues smashing the US$2 billion mark (July 2013 - July 2014).
The 2013-2014 period for the contemporary art sector has never been so competitive or speculative with a record set by Jeff Koons' contemporary work of art sold €38.8 million, a record number of auction sales reaching the million dollar/euro threshold and a record auction turnover for a Post-War and Contemporary Art sale.
In four short years, the global turnover achieved in the sale room, irrespective of period, has almost doubled since the slowdown of 2009/2010: a period that registered a price drop of 48%.
Affluence has not been slow to return, buoyed up by a market structure that has changed significantly in many respects, including the increased globalisation and dematerialisation of sales. The galloping speculation of the period between 2004 and 2007 is once more to the fore and the contemporary market is more affluent than during the micro-bubble of 2007: a year of rocketing prices, with revenues for the year up by 50% for a similar number of works sold.
A new peak was achieved this year – the best in the history of contemporary art at auction in terms of auction turnover, price rises and record bids.
The price index of artists born after 1945 has followed the trend, reaching unprecedented heights and even topping the levels attained at the height of 2007 by 15%. All in all, the global index of contemporary art prices has risen by over 70% over the decade.
The art business is flourishing in a bubble that never bursts, and in continuing growth as regards works at the very top end of the market. This year, the high-end market acclaimed 13 contemporary works with prices of over €10 million, and designated the most expensive work in the world: a giant Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons, sold for over €38.8 million.
The most speculative names in art - considered safe investments by some despite the sector's volatility and wild fluctuations in price - are driven by powerful trendsetting gallery networks, curators and purchasing consultants, and by various leading players in the art market, of which the leading auction houses form an integral part.
Prosperity depends simultaneously on tried-and-tested mechanisms and the voracious appetite of investors bidding from all over the world. The contemporary art market has become an economic UFO with the globalisation of demand, which involves the arrival of extremely rich investors en masse.
Attracted by the diversification of investment and exceptional yield rates, demand has increased substantially, meaning that five times more works are sold today than 10 years ago, at price levels that bear no comparison.
A PDF version of the Artprice Contemporary Art Market Report is downloadable from Artprice.com in French and English. The German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese versions are also available.
Volatility of contemporary art prices
While the 1991 crisis made auction sales considerably more difficult, that of 2008 implies a greater degree of selectivity on the hottest segments of the market: Post-war and Contemporary art, particularly on the so-called «emerging» Asian markets. Th e new generation of collectors has invested en masse in contemporary artists with whom they feel most in sync, but they have also focused much of their cash on the most speculative signatures of the moment.
This phenomenon is reflected in our ranking of the Top 10 artists of 2008 with two living artists parading alongside the world's biggest revenue earners: Damien Hirst and Gerhardt Richter. In 2008, Post-war art (i.e. by artists born between 1920 and 1944) and Contemporary art (artists born after 1945) represented 32.3% of global Fine Art transactions and close to 35% of global art auction revenue. In fact, during the year, the most recent art was more likely to fetch six figure bids: whereas 3% to 3.3% of transactions in the combined segments of Post- War, Modern and Contemporary art fetched over $100,000, this ratio rises to 6.5% in the Contemporary segment alone. The same proportion of Old Masters also fetched over $100,000; but the overall number of lots was substantially smaller (20,000 vs. 50,000 in the Contemporary segment). As the most volatile sector of the market, Contemporary art is the first to suffer from the crisis and it has already seen some very sharp price adjustments: Artprice's global art price index shows that Contemporary art works lost 34.4% of their value in 2008 the sharpest contraction of all the segments back-pedalling 2 years of speculation to 2006 levels.
excerpt from: Art Market Trends 2008
© 2009 artprice.com
New York remains the largest market
With turnover of $ 1,322 million for some 30,000 lots sold, the United States dominated the art market once again in 2004. US auction houses accounted for 46.5% of the global fine art market compared with 42% in 2003, and total turnover generated in the United States rose 45% in one year.
A number of factors contributed to this substantial rise: an increase in sales volume (+15%), a dramatic cumulative rise in prices (+18.5% on the New York market) and the
growing number of lots sold for over a million dollars (229 works in New York, compared with 132 in 2003). Intense competition among the leading auction houses enhanced further the quality of works that changed hands in 2004, with New York benefiting the most from this race for the finest pieces. The Big Apple is by far the best market for selling works in the seven-figure range. Underlying this dynamic increase is a combination of factors: the inevitable wider accessibility of the art market, resumed growth on the financial markets, the dollar's depreciation and the search for alternative investments. While an investment of $ 100 in the US art market in 1994 yielded 60% in 2004, it was a completely different story in France: an art investment of € 100 only yielded on average 2% in 10 years.
The changing face of the European market
excerpt from: Art Market
© 2005 artprice.com