Whitehot Magazine

January/February 2014 Art Market Report

   “Le Chemin” (2011) by Finnish Photographer Elina Brotherus—Ama Gallery booth at ARCOmadrid 2014. Image courtesy of ARCOmadrid. 



ACCORDING TO THE MEI MOSES WORLD ALL ART INDEX the global market saw a 2.2% overall increase in private and public art sales at $65.9 Billion in 2013. Transactions in the United States accounted for an estimated $25 Billion, while China accounted for nearly $16 Billion (up 2% from 2012).

2013 ENDED WITH UNPRECENTED AUCTION TALLIES. According to Artprice, worldwide Post-war/ Contemporary sales increased by 13% at $12.05 Billion. Broken down: Christie’s grossed $3.55 Billion in PwC sales, Sotheby's $3.10 Billion, followed by Chinese auction houses Poly International and China Guardian. Furthermore, China remained the top country in terms of cumulative sales and participant buyers, accounting for $4.078B of the aforementioned $12.05B—this total doesn’t take into account default payments. The US followed behind at $4.016B (up 20% from 2012) then Britain at $2.11B and France at $549 Million.

IN TERMS OF ALL CATEGORIES AT AUCTION, Christie's International achieved $7.13 Billion, up 14% from 2012—the highest annual revenue total for any auction house in history. This was in part due to an influx of new buyers last year, approximately one in every three. The PwC department made $2 Billion—a 26% increase from 2012 of which private sales accounted for $1.19B. The most profitable lot was Francis Bacon’s triptych “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” which sold for $142.4 Million at Christie’s New York. By region, Christie’s results increased by 31% in the Americas, +30% in Hong Kong, +79% in Dubai and +36% in Asia and the Middle East, with a 12% decrease in Europe. On the other hand, Sotheby's reported a 19% increase in auction tallies worldwide.

BOTH CHRISTIE’S AND SOTHEBY’S HELD INAUGURAL AUCTIONS in mainland China last year. Prior to 2013, the two prominent auction houses held major Asian art sales in Hong Kong not China due to legal restrictions. Even now Christie’s and Sotheby’s cannot sell cultural relics pre-1949. According to Art Media Agency: “China has emerged as the second largest market after the United States, with Hong Kong confirming its place as an internationally-significant salesroom. Christie’s Asia sales totalled $947 million in 2013, with Hong Kong’s autumn auctions realising total sales of $496 million. Also held in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s October sales of Contemporary and Modern realised sales of $542 million. The trend for record-breaking is no longer just limited to the West, and the figures reflect China’s continued growth as a financial superpower, rivalling the US across all markets.” With its new outpost in China last year, Christie’s saw a 42% increase in Asian art sales.

ACCORDING TO ARTNET’S Fourth Quarter Global Auction Report: “The overall growth of the art market during the fiscal year [2013] is directly tied to Q4 performances, when the overall market increased by 20% in value from the same period last year. Q4 was marked by significant increases in value sold in the United States (+27%), China (+13%), the United Kingdom (+11%), and France (+8%)…The top 10 artists in 2013 by value sold at auction include: Andy Warhol (2013 sales: US$427.1 million), Pablo Picasso (US$422.8 million), Zhang Daqian (US$320.6 million), Jean-Michel Basquiat (US$286.8 million), Qi Baishi (US$265.6 million), Francis Bacon (US$219.8 million), Gerhard Richter (US$189 million), Roy Lichtenstein (US$160.9 million), Zao Wou-Ki (US$158.3 million), and Claude Monet (US$157.1 million).”

THE FRENCH ART MARKET GREW in 2013. Leading Parisian auction house Artcurial made £21 Million (~USD$29M) in just one week for modern art. By comparison, Sotheby’s announced record contemporary sales totaling €44 Million (~USD$60M) while Christie’s reported €56 Million (~USD$72M), a 62% increase from 2012. Though these tallies pale in comparison to other major cities, Paris ranks 6th behind NY, London, Hong Kong and Peking and Shanghai in China.

SMALLER REGIONAL MARKETS also fared well. The Nigerian art market (all categories) made N286.6 Million (USD$1.75M), up 21.8% from 2012. Similarly, Romania’s contemporary market increased by 10% at €15.1 Million (~USD$21M).

THE 6TH EDITION OF INDIA ART FAIR ran January 30–February 2. Delhi hosted IAF this year, which presented 91 galleries (50% international and 50% Indian galleries), repping 1000+ artists. As India’s most prominent art fair, its sales tallies directly mark the country’s overall art market valuation. Last year (2013), IAF reported a 25–30% increase in sales with more corporate and institutional support as well as collectors (many from China). Final 2014 numbers have yet to be released.

INDIA’S ART MARKET REMAINS EMERGENT, valued at approximately $100 Million. Weakened currency has resulted in a 6-year downturn. According to The Financial Times, “The local art market grew frenetically between 2000 and 2008. The slump since then has been long. Andersen Petterson-run ArtTactic, a sort of a bible for art investors around the world, had in a November report said confidence level in the Indian art market fell by 13.6% in the six months till November. Rupee's steep fall was identified as the main reason for this crash by ArtTactic.” Luckily, a report published by Euromonitor predicts an 86% growth in India’s luxury goods market over the next few years. This is evidenced by Christie’s decision to hold its first India-based auction last December. The opening sale’s top lot set a new world record for an Indian artist—a landscape painting by V. S. Gaitonde, which sold $3.7 Million.

THE 15TH EDITION OF ART ROTTERDAM ran February 6–9. This year, the fair presented 90 galleries and drew 21,500 visitors, up 33% from 2013.

THE 33RD EDITION OF ARCOmadrid ran February 19–23. The fair showcased 219 galleries from 23 countries with Finland as its focus. ARCO dedicated €4.5 Million (USD$6.2M) to increase international visibility for 2014. Though final numbers have yet to be released the fair was projected to attract 10,000+ visitors and generate €80 Million (USD$109.6M) for the city.

THE 2ND EDITION OF ART FAIR PHILIPPINES ran February 20–23. This year, AFP exhibited 25 Filipino galleries and three international galleries (as opposed to 24 last year). It drew 1,500 people during the VIP opening. Furthermore, Christie’s set up a booth to coincide with a series of lectures on Southeast Asian art.

MID-FEBRUARY’S LONDON’S POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY auctions proved lucrative with a cumulative total of $350 Million. Sotheby’s Contemporary sale fetched £88 Million (USD$144M) while Christie's PwC sale realized £124 Million (USD$206M). This was the highest total for a European sale in the category second to June 2012 (£133M). The top lot was as Julia Fioretti at Reuters describes, “a celebrated portrait by Irish-born artist Francis Bacon of his alcoholic lover and muse George Dyer, ‘Portrait of George Dyer Talking’, painted in 1966, was bagged for 42 million pounds [$70M] by a U.S. buyer, well above its pre-sale estimate of 30 million pounds.”

THE IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN AUCTIONS IN LONDON proved similarly profitable. Sotheby’s and Christie’s cumulatively grossed £412 Million ($675M), beating last February’s £307 Million record by an impressive 33.6% and exceeding all New York Imp-Mod sales since 2006. This was due to increased supply of top tier works finally meeting demand. Altogether, 85% of lots sold over 7 separate auctions.

ARTNET LAUNCHED A NEWS PLATFORM called artnet News: The Global Art Market Newswire. The site, dedicated to all things art market-related, streams 27/4 with original content produced by a slew of veteran writers. Artnet’s CEO Jacob Pabst hired Benjamin Genocchio as editor (formerly at Louise Blouin Media and The New York Time



Shireen Lohrasbe

Shireen holds a BBA in Design & Management from Parsons The New School for Design and an MA in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York. She has contributed to several online publications including Art Observed, Quintessentially Art, and Whitewall Magazine. Shireen is a regular art market contributor at Whitehot Magazine.

view all articles from this author