US accounts for over a third in value of art sold worldwide this year

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artnet CEO Jacob Pabst photographed by Todd Eberle

Fine Art sales in the United States in the first half of 2014 accounted for 33% of the global total in terms of value, and 19% in terms of volume according to online art resource and auctioneer artnet, which recently released its second quarter auction results report based on information from its database.

It found that while the value of art sold in the United States increased significantly (+27%) from 2013, the volume of lots sold say little change, signalling an overall increase in the average price of lots.

The individual successes of the New York sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips were instrumental in the overall growth of the market, states the report. Each of the three auction houses saw increases in value sold, compared to the first half of 2013, and together contributed to 93% of all value sold in the United States.

Leading the way were Christie’s New York’s Post-War and Contemporary sales, which realized over US$974 million over the course of three days.

“The evening sale shattered records, achieving the highest total for a single auction,” states the report. “The auction garnered over US$744 million, surpassing the US$691 million that sold in the evening Contemporary sale in Q4 of 2013.”

The sale was led by the two most expensive works sold so far in 2014, each selling for over US$80 million: Barnett’ Newman’s Black Fire I and Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards.

Additionally, over 30 new auction records were set during these auctions for artists including Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, Frank Stella and Barnett Newman.

“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