Fine art auction industry healthy, says artnet

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Although the market has witnessed regional slowdowns tied to prevailing economic conditions in 2013, the overall fine art auction industry has remained healthy and is showing steady and stable growth. In particular, positive trends were seen in the Post-War and Contemporary market, driven by extremely successful auction seasons in New York, as well as various other regional markets within the United States.

These are the key findings of a new overview of the global art auction market in 2013 released by artnet, the online resource to buy, sell, and research fine art, design, and decorative art.

In 2013, the global Fine Art market increased 5% by value sold from the previous year, earning over US$14.4 billion. Although this year’s total sales value fell short of the post-recession peak reached in 2011 (US$ 16.2 billion), this figure was particularly promising considering the sluggish performance of the art market in China (-3%) and the United Kingdom this year (-4%). Both countries failed to reach 2012 levels by value and volume sold, although their Q4 results suggest a more promising outlook for 2014.

The overall growth of the art market for the fiscal year is directly tied to Q4 performances, when the overall market increased 20% by 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%). Of the top 10 works sold in 2013, 7 were sold in the fourth quarter, led by the record-setting sale of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), selling for US$142.4 million at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary auction in New York.

Of the lots offered in 2013, the number of high-value works (works sold for over US$1 million) increased almost 10% from 2012, with 113 works selling for over US$10 million, a new record in auction history. Collectively, these works accounted for over US$2.6 billion, and represented 18% of global Fine Art sold this year by value.

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).