artnet News’ Top 10 Most Expensive Living British Artists at Auction 2015
See who made the list this year.
TOP TEN ARTISTS BY LOT 2005–2015
This summer, we’re taking a look once again at the top ten British artists over the past ten years. Looking at the artnet Price Database, we kick off with the top artists by lot, and then give a list of artists by value over the same period. Comparing it to last year’s ten-year look at artnet News’ most expensive living British artists at auction, some of the same names pop up—Damien Hirst, Peter Doig, and Bridget Riley—though some of the rankings have shifted a bit. This year Doig edged out Hirst for the top slot after one of his paintings scored a record $25.9 million this past May. Among new artists who broke into the top slots this year were more YBAs including Chris Ofili and Tracey Emin. Also notable was the addition of Anish Kapoor since many of the top prices garnered at auction tend to be for paintings rather than sculpture. Meanwhile, perennial contemporary favorites including Glenn Brown, David Hockney, and Antony Gormley hold their respective rankings from last year.
1. Peter Doig
Swamped (1990) is the piece that pushed Doig past Hirst to the top of our list. Demand for his paintings has grown continually stronger over the years, despite market observers fretting in 2007—pre-art market crash—that his prices had gotten overheated when a Russian billionaire in a bidding war shelled out $10 million for White Canoe (1990-91) at a February 2007 auction at Sotheby’s London, more than quadrupling the high $2.4 million estimate.
Today, work by Doig occupies eleven out of twenty spots from artnet’s data for the highest sale prices at auction in the past ten years. Swamped sold for $25,925,000 in May at Christie’s New York, nearly $8 million more than the previous record set for Pine House (Rooms for Rent) which sold for $18,085,000 in 2014.
2. Damien Hirst
The YBA earns a solid second position on our list with the sale of Lullaby Spring (2002) at Sotheby’s London Contemporary Evening auction in 2007, fetching $19,230,922. Additional Sotheby’s London sales for The Golden Calf (2008) and The Kingdom (2008) are indicators of Hirst’s popularity: seven of his works are in the top twenty pieces sold at auction for living British artists in the past ten years, as reported by artnet.
3. Glenn Brown
Brown holds on to the third position in our list with his painting The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali (after John Martin) (1998). The piece sold for $8,110,651 from Sotheby’s London in 2012. A 2013 sale of Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) Copied from the Stars Like Dust, 1986 by Chris Foss (1994) went for $5,746,039.
4. David Hockney
Hockney’s sale of Beverly Hills Housewife (diptych) (1966-67) for $7,922,500 at Christie’s New York in 2009 keeps him in the fourth spot in our top ten, along with sales of additional paintings from the 1960s: Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken head from Thebes (1963), California Art Collector (1964), and The Splash (1966).
5. Antony Gormley
In 2011, a maquette of Gormley’s Angel of the North (1994-98) sold for $5,376,620 at Christie’s London, far higher than the original cost of erecting the actual sculpture in Gateshead ($1.34 million).
6. Bridget Riley
Riley’s sale of Op-Art masterpiece Chant 2 (1967) at Sotheby’s London in 2008 keeps her in our sixth spot with a premium inclusive price of $5,104,125.
7. Chris Ofili
The Holy Virgin Mary (1996) has had its share of controversy, but its sale for $4,532,945 at Christie’s in June introduces Ofili to our list.
8. Tracey Emin
Emin’s installation (now on view at the Tate Britain) was sold for $4, 365,678 a year ago at Christie’s London. Its owner, Count Christian Duerckheim, has loaned the artwork to the British museum for the next decade (and maybe longer).
9. Frank Auerbach
Auerbach’s sale of Primrose Hill, Summer (1968) at Sotheby’s London last June for $3,972,122 surpassed his previous record for the 2008 sale of Head of Helen Gillespie (1963) by $95,578.
10. Anish Kapoor
Kapoor jumps into the top ten with the 2008 sale of his sculpture Untitled (2003). While the list is dominated by painters, British Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor—known for his bravado and tendency to work on a grand scale—clearly has broad appeal for contemporary collectors.
TOP TEN ARTISTS BY VALUE 2005-2015
While looking at artist’s auction history by lot gives a snapshot of the artist’s top works over the past ten years, looking at the top artists by value over the same period gives a slightly different view, one that speaks more to an artist’s long-term success. While some are on both lists (by lot and value), including Kapoor, Hockney, and Riley, others like Tracey Emin and Chris Ofili had more recent successes that pulled them into the top. Here are the top ten British artists by value over the past ten years:
1. Damien Hirst $544,093,729
2. Peter Doig $248,477,617
3. David Hockney $136,532,128
4. Anish Kapoor $120,463,117
5. Frank Auerbach $103,670,737
6. Bridget Riley $52,460,198
7. Glenn Brown $52,324,460
8. Banksy $52,243,150
9. Antony Gormley $44,492,720
10. Gilbert & George $44,349,429
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