Top 10 Most Expensive Living European Artists at Auction in 2015

British and Italian artists did particularly well.

Estimates help give context for bidders at auction. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Estimates help give context for bidders at auction. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Although modern European artists were the big performers at auction in 2015, contemporary art remains the most profitable market segment by far.

Buoyed by increased participation of international collectors from emerging markets, media attention driven by large price tags, and the perception of glamour generated by events such as Art Basel Miami Beach, the market for contemporary European artists remained strong in 2015.

We analyzed the numbers from the artnet Price Database and collected the top ten most expensive living European artists at auction this year, and it appears male artists continue to gain ground over their female counterparts.

Collectors took a particularly strong interest in British contemporary art this year, with half of the represented artists hailing from north of the channel. A new auction record for Lucio Fontana and major museum shows such as Alberto Burri’s retrospective at the Guggenheim reveal the draw of post-war Italian art, and artists; the market’s taste for all things Italian extended to the contemporary sector with four of the ten European artist’s hailing from Italy.

See the results below.

Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild (1986) Photo: Sotheby's

Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild (1986)
Photo: Sotheby’s

1. Gerhard Richter
Abstraktes Bild (1986) sold on February 10, 2015 at Sotheby’s London for $46,352,959.12. Richter is the only German artist to occupy a place on the list.

Peter Doig Swamped (1990) Photo: Christie's

Peter Doig Swamped (1990)
Photo: Christie’s

2. Peter Doig
Swamped (1990) sold on May 11, 2015 at Christie’s New York for $25,925,000. Doig’s painting took second place, and set a new auction record for the Scottish artist.

Giovanni Anselmo Tosione (1968) Photo: Christie's

Giovanni Anselmo Tosione (1968)
Photo: Christie’s

3. Giovanni Anselmo
Anselmo’s unusual sculpture claimed third place; Tosione (1968) sold on May 13, 2015 at Christie’s New York for $6,437,000.

David Hockney Arranged Felled Trees (2008) Photo: Sotheby's

David Hockney Arranged Felled Trees (2008)
Photo: Sotheby’s

4. David Hockney
Arranged Felled Trees (2008) sold on July 1, 2015 at Sotheby’s London for $5,305,325.63.

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (2012) Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (2012)
Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

5. Rudolf Stingel
Untitled (2012) sold on May 14, 2015 at Phillips New York for $4,757,000.

Damien Hirst Lullaby Winter (2002) Photo: artlinked.com

Damien Hirst Lullaby Winter (2002)
Photo: artlinked.com

6. Damien Hirst
Lullaby Winter (2002) sold on February 11, 2015 at Christie’s London for $4,645,903.14.

Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary (1996). Photo: Wikipedia.

Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary (1996).
Photo: Wikipedia.

7. Chris Ofili
The Holy Virgin Mary (1996) sold on June 30, 2015 at Christie’s London for $4,532,945.43. Ofili’s controversial painting, which former New York mayor Rudolf Giuliani famously tried to ban from being shown at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999, was a hit at auction this summer. It reached a new record price for the artist.

Michelangelo Pistoletto Biennale 66 (1966) Photo: Christie's

Michelangelo Pistoletto Biennale 66 (1966)
Photo: Christie’s

8. Michelangelo Pistoletto
Biennale 66 (1966) sold on November 10, 2015 at Christie’s New York for $3,861,000.

Frank Auerbach Head of Gerda Bohm (1961) Photo: Sotheby's

Frank Auerbach Head of Gerda Bohm (1961)
Photo: Sotheby’s

9. Frank Auerbach
Head of Gerda Boehm (1961) sold on July 1, 2015 at Sotheby’s London for $3,468,686.55.

Maurizio Cattelan Ostrich (1997) Photo: Galerie Perrotin, Paris

Maurizio Cattelan Ostrich (1997)
Photo: Galerie Perrotin, Paris

10. Maurizio Cattelan
Ostrich (1997) sold on June 30, 2015 at Christie’s London for $2,419,405.57. The Italian artist’s TOILETPAPER lounge, created with Pieorpaolo Ferrari, was a popular place for Art Basel in Miami Beach fairgoers this year.


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