Why Are Yayoi Kusama’s Works Selling Like Hotcakes?

In the past 72 hours, 12 Kusama works have sold at auction in New York.

Yayoi Kusama. Photo: courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Yayoi Kusama. Photo: courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
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artnet Analytics shows Yayoi Kusama’s market has mainly been on the rise since 2007, with total sales value reaching an all-time high this year.

Twelve Yayoi Kusama paintings have sold in the past 72 hours during New York’s big fall auction week. All 12 met their reserves and some sold for higher.

The star lot this week was Kusama’s White No. 28 (1960), which sold for $7.1 million (more than three times its estimate) at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art evening sale (see: “Epic Christie’s $852.9 Million Blockbuster Contemporary Art Sale Is the Highest Ever“).

Using artnet Analytics, we can get a snapshot of Kusama’s market for the 10-year period 2004 to 2014 (see above). In just 10 years, Kusama’s total sales by value have risen more than 262 percent, from $931,446 in 2004 to $35,455,059 in 2014.

And a dip into artnet’s Price Database reflects that Kusama’s Infinity Nets are outperforming her Infinity Dots.

Kusama’s market was reinvigorated in the year leading up to her retrospective at the Whitney in 2012, which also coincided with her fashion stint at Louis Vuitton as Marc Jacobs’s last artist-collaborator during his tenure there.

Not only popular in the art epicenters of New York, London, and Hong Kong, Kusama’s work has also been praised by many in South America (see: “South America Goes Dotty for Kusama“).

She has global appeal, because, honestly, what’s not to like? Her work is easily understood, cute, inoffensive, and a palpable signifier of intellectual and financial currency.

So, for those who missed the chance of getting their hands on her work at this week’s sales, there are still some Kusamas available, including a 30-foot-wide Infinity Net (estimate: $1,554,844–$1,943,555) at Christie’s Hong Kong and a fluorescent pink Infinity Net ($400,000–600,000) on artnet Auctions. (Bid away!)

Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy the Whitney Museum.

Yayoi Kusama.
Courtesy of the Whitney Museum.


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