Unmatched comprehensiveness worldwide for fine art auctions.

Our econometric department of the art market offers spot-on indicators to bring you clear information and help you in your decisions.

Art Market Archive

Access the past

Explore Years 2010 to 2003

Explore Years 2017 to 2011

China: the new global leader

An electroshock in the history of the global art market! China is now the world leader in Fine Art auction sales and four Chinese artists are among the most sought-after artists in the world at the very top of the artists' ranking by annual auction revenue for Fine Art (prints, photographs, paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations).
To reverse the polarity of the global art market from West to East, China has done without artifices such as art gallery figures (a more opaque private market than the public auction market) or even furniture or traditional Chinese art objects (the prices of which are shooting up worldwide).
With a Fine Art annual revenue total of $3 billion in 2010, China overtook the United States, which now finds itself in second position with 30% of global revenue. The UK was third with a global share of 19% from revenue of $1.8 billion and France was fourth with $475m, i.e. a 5% share vs. 13.9% in 2009.

excerpt from: Art Market Trends 2010
© 2011

Art World United States / UK / China / France: the fight for market supremacy

The market purge substantially diminished revenue totals.
With $1.3 billion in 2009, the United States was still the leading market place for Fine Art sales despite generating 55% less than in 2008. The UK maintained its second place with a revenue total of $1 billion, down 65% versus the previous year.
The contraction of the Anglo-American markets (which nevertheless accounted for 49% of global auction sales) was largely a result of the slower pace adopted by Christie's and Sotheby's. The number of works offered by the two market leaders was cut by 34% and 47% respectively compared with 2007.
This volume reduction had a direct impact on their revenue totals: Christie's totalled 57% less than in 2007 and Sotheby's lost 60% of its annual revenue total. Together, the two market giants generated 60% of total global revenue from just 10% of total global transactions. However, this fi gure was down compared to 2008 when the two giants accounted for 72.3% of global revenue from 15% of global Fine Art transactions. In contrast, China's auction revenue rose by a substantial 25% in 2009 (to $830m).
Hence, the world's no.3 marketplace expanded while the UK and the USA both contracted. China is now just $170m behind the UK and today represents 17.4% of global Fine Art auction revenue vs 7.7% in 2008. France, the world's fourth largest marketplace, posted a 31% increase on the back of the Pierre Bergé/Yves Saint Laurent sale which generated 40% of its annual revenue from Fine Art ($265m of the $665m total in 2009).

excerpt from:
Art Market Trends 2009
© 2010

Contemporary Art

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

Asian Market

China moves up to the number 3 position in the global art market
In geographical terms, France traditionally takes third place in the global art revenue ranking behind the United States and the UK. However, in 2007 it was relegated to fourth position by China where annual revenue, boosted by the major international auction companies, reached a higher level than in France. In 2007, the Chinese market generated no less than 75 sales above the million-dollar line with a top price of HKD 66 million (USD 8.5 million) for a work by Cai Guoqiang - an absolute record for a work of Chinese Contemporary art - followed by two Modern artists, XU Beihong (HKD 64 million) and ChHen Chengbo (HKD 45 million). Henceforward, sustained by rapidly growing domestic demand and rising star artists commanding rocketing prices, China is capable of competing with New York and London on sales of Fine Art, frequently generating revenue figures reaching into 8 figures. And last year, the most prestigious sales were not the exclusive privilege of Sotheby's and Christie's...
The Chinese art boom is also reflected in the number of auction houses and the volumes negotiated. China's arrival as a major player in the art world has proved even more spectacular on the particularly buoyant and highly competitive Contemporary art segment. In 2007, 36 Chinese artists featured in the Artprice index for the top 100 Contemporary artists by sales revenues, with in second place, ahead of Jeff Koons, the extraordinary Zhang Xiaogang.

excerpt from:
Art Market Trends 2007
© 2008

Art Market players

Christie's & Sotheby's: who rules the global art market?
Every year, in New York and London, the prestigious Impressionist and Modern Art evening sales or Contemporary Art sales at Sotheby's and Christie's are the high points of the global auction season. They are always a great spectacle, boasting catalogues stuffed with the market's most exceptional pieces. Between them, these two auction houses now virtually monopolise sales of a million dollars and over. In 2006, of the 810 million-plus lots sold, 81 went under the hammer at these two leading venues.
In the current growth phase, competition between Sotheby's and Christie's is having a dynamising impact on the wider market. Of the 9,200 fi ne art auctions recorded by Artprice in 2006, the big two hosted 842. This is 80 more than in 2004. But, despite having just 9.15% of total auction numbers, Sotheby's and Christie's handled 76% of the global fi ne art market's turnover. The average price of lots sold at the two market leaders, who arrange the most prestigious sales, was $ 91,805. This compares to an average at all other auctions houses of just $ 7,156.

excerpt from: Art Market Trends 2006
© 2007

The popular segments of the market

The market's structure is evolving as the contemporary art and photography segments are becoming more popular than other market sectors.
Thus, the contribution of living artists to Fine Art auction sales jumped from 7.9% in 2000 to 17.6% in 2005. Prices in this segment (in dollar terms) climbed 12.5% in 2005 compared with 8.2% for Modern Art, -2.4% for 19th century paintings and 8.7% for Old Masters works. Furthermore, on 12 May 2005, Christie's set a new record for a contemporary art auction by generating $ 31.7 million over and beyond its 2004 record of $ 102 million. And it only took 65 lots to attain this result! The auction owes its success to the strong interest among buyers in the major post-war works on offer. The most expensive lot was Edward Hopper's painting, Chair Car, (1965) which fetched $ 12.5 million. Close on its tracks was Willem de Kooning's Sail Cloth which sold for $ 11.7 and thirdly a 1964 work by Mark Rothko which went for $ 9 million. The photography segment is now extremely popular among collectors. In 2000 this sector only accounted for 3.4% of sales in volume terms, and $ 50 million (1.7%
of the market) in value terms. The segment has become very important with an annual turnover of more than $ 93 million. In October 2005, photography works in New York had never been so lucrative. In seven auctions, Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips together made $ 28.9 million in turnover. They also set an increasing number of records, the highest for the portfolios of Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952): The North American Indian fetched an impressive $ 1.2 million, thereby doubling its high estimations.

excerpt from: Art Market Trends 2005
© 2006

Art Investment

Investment in the art market requires a knowledge of the markets for individual artists, but also of the associated investment risk. As with the stock markets, this is not insignificant. However, the art market is considerably less volatile. For example, from 1 January 1997 to 1 June 2004, the average quarterly fluctuation in the Artprice Global Index was two to three times smaller than the same statistic for the Dow Jones IA and the S&p 500. The art market is far less sensitive to economic crises and geopolitical events than other assets. Art prices held up well in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks and the Iraq war: our index contracted only 1.2% in the third quarter of 2001, and, in the first six months of 2003, it rose 7%.
As with stock markets, the art market contracts in times of uncertainty. The annual volume of art works sold at auction dropped 36% between 2000 and 2003. While stock markets tend to price in the slightest concerns investors may have, there is no automatic correlated reaction on the art market. In effect, rather than compromise on price, buyers and sellers of works of art become far more selective. At auctions, this translates into a higher bought-in rate: between 2000 and 2003 the bought-in rate rose by 9%. The quality of the works bought and sold guarantees the return on investment, while the lower sales volume fuels prices.

excerpt from:
Art Market Trends 2004
© 2005

Art Market Places

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 Trends 2004
© 2005

Art market cycles

The international auction calendar is the main driver of the art market cycle. The heart of the market shifts week by week, largely in line with what auctions are coming up on the three leading markets in France, the US and the UK.
Each year the auction houses shut up shop over Christmas and New Year. Business picks up again in New York first, with 2,500 to 3,000 lots on offer in the second half of January. London then brings the hammer down on a similar number of artworks a couple of weeks later. From then on until mid-July, the UK puts up a continuous weekly flow of more than 1,000 lots, which peaks at 2,000 to 3,000 lots per week at the end of the first half, rounding off the spring/summer auction season with a large number of prestigious auctions covering all categories of artworks.
In France, March and June are the busiest times, with close to 10,000 lots sold at auction in each of these two months. But by value, there can be no comparison with New York’s auctions in the first three weeks in May, which normally generate turnover in excess of $600m-almost a quarter of the annual total. One-fifth of annual sales of lots valued at over EUR100,000 thus take place in under three weeks.
The number of auctions drops sharply from mid-July to mid-September. During this period barely 3,000 lots per week are put up for auction worldwide. But Australia keeps the ball rolling, with some fine auctions in August. The second season only really kicks off in the last week of September, when all the main markets hold some auctions. These are often relatively low key events, ahead of the more prestigious sales held in November and early December. The market then gets into full swing for three or four weeks in late autumn. Works valued in excess of EUR100,000 begin to come back onto the market. The first week in November is an especially busy time for the top end of the market, while, for all categories combined, the last week in November is the most hectic, with dozens of auctions held worldwide and 15,000 to 20,000 lots sold in less than a week. This year the war in Iraq and the economic downturn do not look to have disrupted the art market’s smooth running after all. Sales are going ahead at the usual pace. The May auctions in New York, though unexceptional, reassured collectors. And the French auctions are being particularly well received.

excerpt from: Art Market Trends 2003
© 2004
copyright ©2004-2023 by © thierry Ehrmann 1987-2023 All rights reserved