Global Fine Art sales soar in first half of 2014

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artnet CEO Jacob Pabst photographed by Todd Eberle

Fine art sales reached over US$6.4 billion globally in Q2, according to auction results released by artnet, an online resource to buy, sell and research art.

“Following 2013’s Q4 auction successes, we have witnessed exciting market growth in the first half of 2014,” said artnet CEO Jacob Pabst. “Data from the artnet Price Database indicate that the overall market for Fine Art increased 19% in terms of value compared to the first half of 2013, and earned over US$8.6 billion globally.

“In addition, independent growth was realized in all three primary public auction markets:  the United States, the United Kingdom, and China. Buyer confidence is also strong at the high-end of the market, with a 21% increase in the number of high-priced lots sold at auction.”

Together, the markets in the United States, United Kingdom and China accounted for approximately 80% of the total value of Fine Art sold at auction.

The top five lots sold in the first half of 2014 were Barnett Newman’s Black Fire I (US$84.1 million), Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards and Portrait of George Dyer Talking (US$80.8 million and US$70.2 million respectively), Mark Rothko’s Untitled (US$66.2 million) and Andy Warhol’s Race Riot (US$62.8 million).

In terms of value sold, the top 10 artists in the first half of 2014 were Pablo Picasso (US$354.8 milion), Andy Warhol (US$299.2 million), Francis Bacon (US$236.5 million), Claude Monet (US$177.6 million), Qi Baishi (US$236.5 million), Gerhard Richter (US$159.2 million), Mark Rothko (US$146.4 million), Jean-Michel Basquiat (US$131.9 million), Alberto Giacometti (US$115.7 million) and Ahang Daqian (US$115.5 million). Together these 10 artists made up over 21% of Fine Art sales in terms of value.

“Similar to last year, Post-War and Contemporary Art continues to make headlines,” said Pabst. “Christie’s New York once again broke records as this May’s Post-War and Contemporary evening sale achieved the highest total for a single sale in auction history. Living artists such as Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, and Christopher Wool also performed exceptionally well at auction, marking the continued interest in this sector of the market.”