Top 10 Most Expensive Living British Artists of 2015

This year proved to be a good one for David Hockney and Damien Hirst.

Damien Hirst Photo: David x Prutting/

As another year of buying and selling draws to a close, artnet News takes a look at the exceptional auction sales of 2015.

With data drawn from the artnet Price Database, we list the top British performers at auction, with perennial favorites such as David Hockney and Damien Hirst coming out in front. The list skews toward painting, but sculpture does make an appearance at key points.

Artists such as Malcolm Morley, Paula Rego, and Howard Hodgkin join the ranks of those on our 10-year look at auction results published in August. See what coveted artworks made the list below.


David Hockney, Arranged Felled Trees (2008). Image: Courtesy of Sotheby's.

David Hockney, Arranged Felled Trees (2008).
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

1. David Hockney
As a collector’s darling, Hockney’s Arranged Felled Trees (2008) sold for a solid $5.3 million in July at Sotheby’s London.

The often-outspoken painter, who frequently experiments with technology, was critical of German artist Gerhard Richter’s work earlier this year: “He always makes the same stuff with the squeegee, which is okay, but I don’t see what’s so great about it,” he told Monopol.

Lot 21, Damien Hirst, Lullaby Winter (2002). Christie's Images Ltd. 2015.

Damien Hirst, Lullaby Winter (2002). 
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

2. Damien Hirst
The YBA heavy-hitter gave Christie’s London a $4.6 million sale in February with his painted pill piece Lullaby Winter (2002). This fall, the artist opened a museum in London to house and exhibit his extensive art collection.

Chris Ofili Holy Virgin Mary

Chris Ofili, Holy Virgin Mary (1996).
Image: Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

3. Chris Ofili
As one of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People this year, Ofili is no stranger to acclaim—or controversy. His Holy Virgin Mary (1996) sold for $4.5 million in June. The controversial painting, which depicts the Virgin Mary with lumps of elephant dung, went for almost double its estimate ($2.3 million).

Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm (1964).

Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm (1961).

4. Frank Auerbach
The German-born British painter’s Head of Gerda Boehm (1961) fetched close to $3.5 million at Sotheby’s London’s contemporary art evening auction in July. The 84-year-old artist currently has a retrospective on view at the Tate Britain until March 2016.

Malcolm Morley, SS Amsterdam in Front of Rotterdam (1966).Image: Courtesy of Christie's.

Malcolm Morley, SS Amsterdam in Front of Rotterdam (1966).
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

5. Malcolm Morley
The artist’s photorealistic painting SS Amsterdam in Front of Rotterdam (1966) fetched almost $1.9 million at Christie’s London in June. The post-war painter was included in a group exhibition honoring the influence of Picasso at Paris’s Grand Palais this fall.

Lot 20, Howard Hodgkin, In the Green Room (1984–1986). Christie's Images Ltd. 2015.

Howard Hodgkin, In the Green Room (1984–1986). 
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

6. Howard Hodgkin
A $1.8 million sale at Christie’s London put Hodgkin in the middle of the list. A mid-80s painting, In the Green Room (1984-1986), was reported to have been sought by multiple bidders at the esteemed auction house in February.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled (2004).Image: Courtesy of Christie's.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled (2004).
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

7. Anish Kapoor
Kapoor made multiple headlines this year, denouncing plagiarist practices, vandalism, and refugee rights, but his auction results were also impressive. Untitled (2004) matched Hodgkin’s sale of $1.8 million at Christie’s London in February.


Paula Rego, The cadet and his sister , Executed in 1988. Lot sold: £ 1,145,000, Auction record for the artist Photo: courtesy Sotheby's

Paula Rego, The cadet and his sister (1988).
Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

8. Paula Rego
Already a standout as one of the most expensive living female artists of 2015, the sale of The cadet and his sister (1988) for just under $1.8 million cements her place on both lists; the sale was also a record for the Lisbon-born British artist.

Gilbert & George, Cherry Blossom No. 5 (1974).Image: Courtesy of Christie's.

Gilbert & George, Cherry Blossom No. 5 (1974).
Image: Courtesy of Christie’s.

9. Gilbert & George
Cherry Blossom No. 5 (1974) netted an impressive sum of nearly $1.3 million at auction in May. The duo had a show at MoMA this year, displaying a selection of early works.

Jenny Saville Photo via: the Telegraph

Jenny Saville.
Photo via: the Telegraph.

10. Jenny Saville
Another artist to join Rego on the most expensive living female artists of 2015 list is painter Jenny Saville. Matrix (1999) sold for $1.2 million at Christie’s London’s post-war and contemporary art evening sale in June.


What a wonderful 50th birthday present for Damien Hirst. After celebrating in June, the artist now tops our list of British artists by value, with 336 lots sold for just under $25 million. This ranking is by aggregate of performance at auction during 2015.

1. Damien Hirst: $24,679,235
2. David Hockney: $18,246,587
3. Anish Kapoor: $18,184,036
4. Frank Auerbach: $11,878,482
5. Chris Ofili: $7,390,212
6. Banksy: $6,126,614
7. Howard Hodgkin: $5,603,134
8. Antony Gormley: $5,162,684
9. Gilbert & George: $4,810,027
10. Marc Quinn: $3,898,597

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