artnet Data Shows Global Art Market Boom Continues

July 24th report shows 21 percent jump in lots sold for over $1 million each.


Fine art sales reached over $6.4 billion in the second quarter of 2014, up 7 percent over the comparable period in 2013, according to a report released by artnet on July 24th. The results, culled from artnet’s Price Database, also included first-half results for 2014, indicating that the global fine art market grew 19 percent by value, to $8.6 billion.

So far this year, the fine art market has seen “significant increases” in value sold in the US (up 27 percent), the UK (up 26 percent), and China (up 7 percent). Together the markets in these three countries accounted for roughly 80 percent of the total value of fine art sold at auction. Of the lots offered in the first six months of this year, the number of high-value works (those sold for over $1 million) rose 21 percent from the same period in 2013, totaling more than 1,140. Collectively, high-value lots realized over $4.6 billion, accounting for more than half of the fine art market by value. Further, 83 of these lots sold for more than $10 million.

In a special section spotlighting the US market, artnet reports that sales in the first half of 2014 accounted for 33 percent of the global total in terms of value, and 19 percent in terms of volume. Also notable, while the value sold in the US increased by 27 percent from 2013, the volume of lots sold changed little, indicating an overall increase in the average lot price. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips together contributed to 93 percent of all value sold in the US in the first half of the year.

Christie’s led with its sales of postwar and contemporary art; May auctions realized $974 million over the course of three days.

The report also named the top 10 artists by value of works sold at auction in the first half of 2014 (see the slideshow). They include: Picasso ($345.8 million); Andy Warhol ($299.2 million); Francis Bacon ($236.5 million); Monet ($177.6 million); Qi Baishi ($168.9 million); Gerhard Richter ($159.2 million); Mark Rothko ($146.4 million); Jean-Michel Basquiat ($131.9 million); Alberto Giacometti ($115.7 million); and Zhang Daqian ($115.5 million). The top-selling female artist was Yayoi Kusama, with $17.9 million in first half 2014 auction tallies. Tellingly though, Kusama ranked 72nd overall.

Alongside Richter on the list of the most expensive living artists are Jeff Koons ($113.3 million); Richard Prince ($40.6 million); and Christopher Wool ($39.5 million).

The report also highlights the five highest-selling lots for the past six months. These included Barnett Newman’s Black Fire I ($84.1 million), Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards and Portrait of George Dyer Talking ($80.8 million and $70.2 million, respectively), Mark Rothko’s Untitled ($66.2 million), and Andy Warhol’s Race Riot ($62.8 million).

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