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2017 The Contemporary Art Market worldwide, by

The historic record of $110.5 million for a Contemporary work illustrates the segment’s extraordinary financial potential. The rise of this segment, the Art Market’s primary growth driver, is fuelled by a virtuous circle that makes Contemporary Art an omnipresent dimension of our cultural landscape.

  • Contemporary Art’s virtuous circle
  • Renewed growth
  • Current trends
  • Popularity of Street Art
  • Towards Art Market gender equality
  • The financial appeal of Contemporary Art
  • Interviews: Madelaine D’Angelo ; Alex Chang
  • 2017 Top 500 Contemporary Artists

The Artprice Contemporary Art Market Report 2017 is now available:

H1 2017 Global Art Market Report, by

H1 2017 saw a general recovery of the Art Market, with turnover up 5%

  1. Global art auction turnover reached $6.9 billion in H1 2017
  2. Prices in the Contemporary segment rose 9.6%
  3. With $2.2 billion, the USA overtook China's $2 billion
  4. The UK and France contributed to the recovery, up 13% and 7% respectively
  5. Contemporary Art accounted for 15% of global turnover, vs. 3% in 2000
  6. A work by Jean-Michel Basquiat (born 1960) fetched $110.5 million
  7. The auction unsold rate improved by 2 percentage points versus 2016

Global overview

At a global level, the Art Market was in better shape in H1 2017, ending two consecutive years of slowdown.

Global figures

More than 228,700 Fine Art lots sold worldwide during the first six months of 2017, generating a total turnover of $6.9 billion (including fees). These results were recorded at more than 3,054 public sales that are subjected to Artprice's systematic and detailed analysis. Artprice has been global leader in Art Market information since 1987. This half-year report covers all public sales of Fine Art (painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, printmaking, installations).

The complete H1 2017 Global Art Market Report, by

  • China and the United States, neck-and-neck,
  • A new era of prosperity in the West,
  • Restructuring of the Chinese market,
  • New collector preferences,
  • Top 50 artists by auction turnover,
  • and much more...

is available online at:

Financialisation of the art market

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 is available online:

Artprice: Contemporary Art Market Annual Report: + 1,370% in 16 years, generating an average annual return of 5.6%

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.

    New decision-support tools:
  • Short, medium and long-term track record
  • Market geography and market economics
  • Yield, risk and liquidity
  • Market restructuring
  • Trends and performances

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:

Artprice's h1 2016 Art Market report: Defying all forecasts... China upped 18%, dominated the global Art Market in the first half of 2016

Global figures
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 surprise.
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.

  • China returns to the leader position as the world’s largest art marketplace with a +18% increase
  • Hong Kong posted h1 growth of 10%
  • Market liquidity has been guaranteed by transactions volumes up 3.2%
  • The Western auction market posted a stable unsold rate of 28%
  • Low supply of masterpieces reduces Western auctioneers’ turnover.<
  • Fewer records, but stronger activity
  • The market price index is down vs. January 2015, but gained 10% in the 2nd quarter of 2016

Download now: Artprice's h1 2016 Art Market report >>>

Artprice's Global Art Market Annual Report for 2015: with constant price growth, the art market represents a veritable alternative to financial markets. USA recovers top position From China

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 scale, Qatar).
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 >>>

Artprice - your insight into the art market

The art market’s primary marketplaces:

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 >>>

Artprice: the 2013/2014 Contemporary Art Market Report is now online

thierry Ehrmann, the CEO and founder of Artprice: is pleased to present its eighth exclusive report on the contemporary art market.

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 in French and English. The German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese versions are also available.

Artprice: The Art Market 2013 +15 % Best year ever

As Artprice had sensed, and indeed written, during 2013, this was indeed the best year ever recorded in auction history (over $12 billion), and the best sale ever for Christie's in its 247 year-old history ? achieved in addition for post-war and contemporary art, with an absolute record for a hammer price: $127 million. This went to a work by the British artist Francis Bacon. 2013 was marked by nearly 15,000 new records for artists, and over 23,000 if first bids are included.
This splendid year was shored up by a globalised demand, particularly with buyers from Asia, the Middle East and Russia, who played a crucial role in the market's fine performance, and displayed a voracious appetite for flagship artists of the 20th century, landing them in a spate of records. has been the world leader in art market information since 1987. Each year, it analyses auction results throughout the world, together with variations in the market, quoted values and price indexes for artists and works, and the forces involved in this specific market. It also examines the various cultural sensibilities and the intrinsic relationship between art and money, which produces much covetousness, and a few disappointments as well.
Download the complete PDF format document (Free download)

Artprice : The Art Market 2012 - a dialogue between East and West

For this study of the global art market in 2012, Artprice has formed an alliance with Artron, the leading information service on the art market in China within the Greater Asia region, in order to provide the best possible overview of the art auction market.
For years, Artprice has taken the utmost interest in collecting the data of the Asian art market and more especially the Chinese market. However, Artprice was missing a key element: the cultural and sociologic analysis that key actor Art Market Monitor of Artron (AMMA) only could provide, according to Thierry Ehrmann, the founder and CEO of Artprice. With the art market now bipolar, entering into a dialogue between East and West has enabled us to come to an unprecedented cross-cultural analysis of the market.
In fact, we are analysing a bipolar art market that has grown in China and the West and at different speeds in different cultural terrains and according to different standards. In comparison with 2011 figures, released by Artprice in its annual report, those of 2012, co-released by Artprice and Artron, show an increase by 6.1%.
There has of course been a globalisation effect due to the dematerialisation of the art market through the Internet and the nomadic nature of collectors. And of course it is clear that bridges have been built between East and West and that the creation, supply and demand of art sometimes overlap at certain points. But we cannot say that art has become totally homogeneous. On the contrary, the art market exacerbates cultural differences by reflecting the gamut of artistic choices. Chinese collectors are not inclined to buy a Western piece of art that they find is too far removed from their cultural parameters. Instead, they prefer traditional styles, ancient calligraphy and, more recently, contemporary “experimental” ink art. Likewise, Western collectors mainly buy the works of artists who speak their language, including some Asian artists who have assimilated Western art history.
So the idea of a globalised art market should be taken with a pinch of salt. In any case, it is a little premature for Western and Chinese readers to be finding their bearings in an analysis of the global art market that is bent on combining information from East and West at all costs. In order to provide a clear and transparent analysis for our entire global readership, this year our report is made up of an introduction that covers the results of art sales around the world in 2012, followed by two distinct chapters. The first of these concentrates exclusively on the art market in the West and Artprice data, while the second focuses on art in China and Artron data. This fertile relationship between Artprice and Artron has led us both to examine our areas of overlap and divergence and to look at the way a new geopolitics is evolving in the art market of the 21st century.
For the past ten year, Artprice has published its exclusive annual art market report – available in 6 languages –, which is distributed to over 6,300 media organisations and international institutions every year. Based on 6.3 million auction results from 4,500 auction houses around the world, the report contains macro- and micro-economic analyses providing the keys to understanding the annual evolution of the global auction market. It discusses the major trends in the market, analysed throughout the year on the ArtMarketInsight page of our website, by the Artprice press agency and jointly by the Artprice and the Art Market Monitor of Artron Econometrics Department. To complement this objective appreciation of the art market based on a year of global auction results, Artprice and the Art Market Monitor of Artron also offer numerous original rankings such as the Top 500 artists by auction revenue and the Top 100 auction results of the year.
Download the complete document in English - PDF format (Free download)
Download the complete document in Chinese - PDF format (Free download)

A high-end market unaffected by the crisis

With the subprime crisis giving way to the debt crisis, the economic record for 2011 was particularly bad in the Western world, marked by colossal debt ratios in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK, a destabilization of European monetary union and swelling public debt in the USA. The downgrade of the USA by Standard & Poor’s this year broke a taboo marking the end of the chapter representing the American model since 1945. The debt crisis and subsequent austerity policies have had catastrophic repercussions. After the summer, the recession in Europe led to the amputation of cultural budgets and subsidies. In the UK for example, cultural resources were cut by 30% between 2010 and September 2011. Naturally, this unhealthy climate has resulted in collateral damage on the art market. Many galleries have suffered in Europe and some have closed shop. More generally, the art market has experienced a massive crisis of confidence following the meltdown of financial indicators. Between late July and the end of September, while the S&p 500 announced drastic falls (loss of 17% between July 21 and August 22, then -5% in September), Artprice’s Art Market Confidence Index (AMCI) fell below zero for the first time since the first quarter of 2009. Concern over financial and economic developments upset confidence in the resilience of the art market. However, the anxiety only needed one strong signal from the market to be subdued, and confidence returned in October thanks to the success of the major Contemporary Art fairs (Frieze in London and FIAC in Paris) and, above all, after some stunning auctions results in the second half of the year.
The debt crisis coupled with the turmoil on financial markets has driven numerous investors to fall back on art which has once again played its historical role as a value haven1.

excerpt from: Art Market Trends 2011
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