Whitehot Magazine

March 2015: January/February Art Market Report

 Detail of Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1,” (1932). Last November, the painting sold for $44.4 Million during Sotheby’s American Sale in New York: the oil on canvas is the most expensive auction lot by a female artist to-date. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.



ARTNET’S “ANNUAL AUCTION RESULTS” report valued the global fine art auction market at $16.1 Billion in 2014. This is quadruple a decade ago, $3.9 Billion in 2004. “2014 marks the third consecutive year that increases have been seen in the value of Fine Art sold at auction. As of December 31, 2014, the market had grown 12.1% in comparison to 2013, and 156.4% since the contraction of the market in 2009… In addition, 139 lots realized prices over $10 million, and collectively accounted for over $3.5 billion in sales (21.7% of the global Fine Art market)—a new auction record.” Moreover, the US, UK, France, Germany and China took the lead as countries selling the most art at auction. “Compared to 2013, the German auction industry experienced a 4.1% increase in terms of value, and a 2.0% decrease in terms of volume sold,” whereas China experienced a decrease in growth from ‘13.

Regarding the actual talent, the top living artists earned “over $100 million individually: Gerhard Richter ($294 million), Jeff Koons
($170 million), and Christopher Wool ($100 million).” The late Andy Warhol accounted for $653 Million in sales last year (the highest for any artist) followed by deceased artists Pablo Picasso ($449M), Francis Bacon ($306M), Mark Rothko ($281M), Qi Baishi ($262M), Claude Monet ($252M), Zhang Daqian ($238M), Alberto Giacometti ($236M) and Jean-Michel Basquiat ($172M). The aforementioned artists comprised 19.4% of the entire global auction market. Though no female artists made the list, Georgia O’Keeffe set a new world record for a female artist at auction. O’Keeffe’s oil on canvas, “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” (1932), raised $44.4 Million during Sotheby’s American Sale in New York last November.

FIRST-TIME BIDDERS MADE UP A THIRD of buyers at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in 2014. Christie’s International (London-based and privately owned) raised $8.4 Billion last year, up 17% from 2013. Of the $8.4 Billion, private sales accounted for $1.5 Billion outside the auction room, and online sales generated $35 Million, up 60% from 2013. Comparatively, publicly owned Sotheby’s made $6 Billion, up 18% from 2013.

LA ART SHOW’S 20TH EDITION transpired Jan 14–18. This year the fair showcased 140 galleries from 22 countries. Furthermore, The National Base for International Cultural Trade (Shanghai) sponsored a Chinese art exhibition that highlighted China’s contemporary aesthetic. 2015 sales and visitor count have yet to be released.

THE 5TH EDITION OF ART STAGE SINGAPORE wrapped January 25. This year the fair presented 197 galleries highlighting Southeast Asian contemporary art and attracted 51,000+ visitors over 5 days. According to the post-fair release: “[the fair] saw a high level of activity with many sales transactions already concluded at the Vernissage, which continued strongly throughout the rest of the Fair days.” White Cube gallery handled the highest transaction with a Damien Hirst butterfly painting that sold for USD$1.6 Million to a regional collector.

THE 7TH EDITION OF INDIA ART FAIR ran January 29–February 1. Sponsored by YES Bank, the New Delhi fair showcased 85 galleries repping 400 artists and 4000+ works. Compared to 2014, IAF 2015 recorded a 25% increase in sales at nearly USD$30 Million despite a 20,000 visitor count drop (from 100,000 in 2014 to 80,000 in 2015). Indian artists made up an estimated 60% of the 1,100 works offered and six booths sold out.

Since its inception in 2008, IAF (previously known as India Art Summit) is India’s “premier modern and contemporary art fair.” IAF has helped India’s art market gain worldwide recognition. According to ArtTactic, "The Indian art market's confidence indicator rose a slight six percent from the last reading in May 2014, now standing at 79 percent and is the highest reading since November 2007.”

ART FAIR PHILIPPINES TRANSPIRED February 5–8. The Manila-based fair presented 33 exhibitors including 8 foreign galleries. Sales and visitor count tallies have yet to be release.

SOTHEBY’S LONDON HELD ITS CONTEMPORARY sale February 10. The evening auction achieved £123,515,250/ $188,200,186 and the post release read: “the highest ever total for a Sotheby’s sale of Contemporary Art in Europe. The evening was led by Gerhard Richter’s [“Abstraktes Bild,”] which established a new record for the artist, selling for £30.4m, a new benchmark for any European living artist. Created in 1986, and marking a radical departure for Richter, this exceptional work is one of the artist’s largest abstract paintings and one of his favourite works.”

THE FOLLOWING EVENING, CHRISTIE’S LONDON held its equivalent Post-war & Contemporary sale. The evening auction realized £117,142,500/ $178,408,028; 95% sold by value. According to the post-release, “The top price of the evening was paid for Cy Twombly’s Untitled (New York City), which sold for £19,682,500 / $29,976,448/ €26,472,963. This result follows the record-breaking sale of one of Cy Twombly’s blackboards which sold for $69.6 million at Christie’s New York in November 2014.” Combined with the PwC day auction, Christie’s made £131,193,200/$200,912,575 and set 9 new artist records including Theaster Gates, Howard Hodgkin and Paolo Scheggi.

CZECH NEWS AGENCY (CTK) PUBLISHED last year’s Czech art market tallies in mid-February. “Arts collectors and investors spent 854 million crowns on artefacts offered at auctions last year, 10 percent less than in 2013, but it was still the third best result in the modern history of Czech auctions, authors of the ART+ yearbook told journalists yesterday.” ART+ fine arts server calculated these numbers from approximately 60 Czech auctions that included 20,000+ works (of which 10,000 sold). “Last year, some 50 new records were set. The record high prices were fetched by the Czech artists Vaclav Spala (1885-1946), Vaclav Brozik (1851-1901), Alfons Mucha (1860-1939), Jan Preisler (1872-1918), Frantisek Foltyn (1891-1976), Theodor Pistek (b. 1932), Josef Manes (1820-1871) and Emil Orlik (1870-1932). A total of 136 works of art, mostly paintings, were sold for over one million crowns. A year ago, it was 21 more, the server said.” Furthermore, ART+’s research uncovered a differentiation of the collectors' interest focused on less prestigious market segments (including older works), distinguished from German-Czech art.

THE MALAYSIAN ART MARKET IS EXPANDING. Kuala Lumpur-based Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers’ raised RM2.98 Million during its Malaysian and Southeast Asian art sale last fall; 93% of lots sold, 50% of which achieved beyond the respective pre-estimates. The six-year old auction house has done considerably well along with Masterpiece Auction House, The Edge Galerie (with its annual Edge Auction) and KL Lifestyle Art Space—all relatively new Malay-based establishments.

CUBAN ART IS GAINING MOMENTUM as diplomatic ties with the US strengthen. Major Miami collectors Ella Cisneros and Howard Farber, Ohio real estate developer Ron Pizzuti as well as prestigious dealers and museum directors have helped catapult artists like Yoan Capote and collectives like Los Carpinteros into the global spotlight. Kelly Crow at The Wall Street Journal describes contemporary Cuban art as “tend[ing] to favor found objects like weathered woods and scrap metals. Cuban art also has long addressed themes specific to the island, such as isolation and the sea: Rafts, towers and oars are frequent symbols. Political criticism tended to be depicted in coded imagery to sidestep censors; lately, more art has tried to address global concerns like immigration and the economy.”

JAPAN’S CONTEMPORARY ART MARKET is expanding in terms of artists and collectors. This is due in part to economics, or what Megumi Lim at Reuters labels “Abenomics”: “Now, with signs of economic recovery under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies, known as ‘Abenomics,’ the art market is reviving as well as the Nikkei stock index pushes to multi-year highs - and the yen falls to multi-year lows. ‘Abenomics’ has had a positive impact on the art market, surprisingly rather more on the seller side due to the weakening yen,’ Yasuaki Ishizaka, the president and managing director of Sotheby's Japan.”

The Japanese market has suffered a long period of stagnation dating back to the eighties, when Japanese collectors fueled the Impressionist segment before the bubble burst. Georgina Adam at The Financial Times describes: “Most traditional Japanese collectors have been sellers rather than buyers of art since then, gradually offloading, if they can, the intemperate purchases of the baburu jidai, or ‘bubble period’… Turnover in Japan's art market for the first half of 2014 hit $30.7 million. That puts it on course to top last year's $54 million and possibly challenge 2012's $76 million, the highest since 2009.”

TURKEY’S ART MARKET IS GROWING. According to Artprice, the country sold $300 Million in fine art last year, an impressive increase from its $5 Million valuation in 2001. Last fall, Artnet News reported, “After an exponential rise in the last decade, the art market in Turkey is entering into a new phase. The major players in Istanbul seem to think that there simply aren't enough Turkish collectors around to sustain further growth: internationalization is thus very much on the agenda. The city's two main contemporary art fairs embody the trend. While continuing to serve its home crowd, the country's oldest contemporary fair, Contemporary Istanbul—which opened to the public yesterday—is more than ever courting international exhibitors and buyers. But competition is rife. And as of last year, Contemporary Istanbul is not the only one hoping to attract foreign collectors to town. The arrival in September 2013 of Art International, courtesy of art fair veteran Sandy Angus, is symptomatic of Western dealers' push to foster stronger relationships with collectors in this part of the world.”

LAST FALL KOREA BIZWIRE REPORTED that Korea’s Ministry of Culture for Sports and Tourism plans to fund the nation’s art market KRW$7.5 Billion in 2015. The government funding may increase to USD $600 Million by 2018. “In addition, the government will provide an online service on artwork prices similar to ArtPrice, the French government-run service on prices of artworks, which will be offered in three languages including English, Chinese, and Korean. From next year, it will sponsor events like art fairs at home and abroad. The ministry will also introduce a new scheme to determine the artist’s compensation level based on her experience and reputation. It will soon come up with standard contract forms for artists so that they could be protected from exploitation.” WM


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.

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