Artprice records a record number of Fine Art auction transactions in H1 2021


Weekly evolution of worldwide Fine Art auction turnover

Comparison between the last five years

thierry Ehrmann, CEO and founder of and its Artprice department:

Artprice recorded the highest number of Fine Art auctions ever won in the world, up + 10.5% compared to H1 2019, which already set a historic record.

The lack of international fairs has clearly redirected some collectors to auction houses (live or online), but the growth in the volume of transactions predates the health crisis and is practically only restarting. “

High-end market vs affordable market

After a chaotic year 2020, the auction agenda for the art market has essentially returned to normal, in particular with the resumption of that of New York spring sales. The sessions organized during week 19 (from 10 to May 16, 2021) totaled $ 1.5 billion in new York, or 21% of global art auction turnover in the first half of 2021.

However, our data for the S1 period suggests that the art market is still relatively affordable: of the 302,100 lots auctioned around the world, 51% were acquired for less than $ 1,000, including acquirers fees. And, unlike the ultra high-end market, these affordable works have been offered and sold very evenly throughout the year. Online sales now even ensure a low level of activity in the art market during the months of July and August, generally marked by a complete stop.

Fine Arts lots sold at auction filtered by price range (H1 2021)

Hong Kong against the trend …

The former British colony now plays an essential role in the international strategies of auction majors such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips and Bonhams, but also of Guardian of China and Poly Auction, and together they made Hong Kong the most luxurious art market on the planet.

Only 3,200 works of art were sold in Hong Kong in the first half of 2021, but they total nearly $ 1 billion ($ 962 million). Indeed, the average price of a work of art in Hong Kong auctions during the first half of 2021 amounted to $ 300,000! A price that sets Hong Kong Except new York (average price $ 41,000), London ($ 32,000) and Paris ($ 10,600), and the rest of China ($ 94,000).

In just six months, 18 lots recovered $ 10 million in Hong Kong although none has reached $ 50 million. Today, that of Hong Kong ultra high-end market is as intense as that of London, and nine times larger than the Paris market (where two lots crossed the $ 10 million threshold during the same period). In mainland China, only eight lots sold over $ 10 million over the same period, but the $ 50 million threshold is crossed again (for an 18th century work by Xu Yang).

First “unlimited” sale

Sotheby’s sale entitled “The fungible collectionWas a perfect example of the creativity shown by the major auction houses in the first half of 2021. The international auction company acquired by Patrick Drahi in 2019 worked directly with the anonymous artist Pak and the web platform Nifty Gateway (without going through a gallery) to sell an unlimited series of NFTs.

At the heart of the collection were the open editions, which allowed collectors to purchase as many fungible cubes as they wanted during the sale period at fixed prices. The sale lasted three times 15 minutes, spread over three days, and the price was increasing every day. This resulted in the sale of 23,598 digital cubes: 19 737 cubes at $ 500 on day 1; 3,268 cubes $ 1,000 on day 2 and 593 cubes at $ 1,500 on day 3. In addition to these small jobs, there were two unique lots (The switch for $ 1.44 million, and The Pixel for $ 1.35 million) as well as several “prizes”. Some NFTs (potentially several million dollars) have been awarded to the best buyers, as well as anyone who has successfully solved a puzzle invented by Pak.

This extraordinary session questioned not only the notion of digital work and its “property”, but also the notion value creation in the ‘Art Market 2.0’, in which the offer can be multiplied at a lower cost.




Copyright 1987-2021 thierry Ehrmann

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Artmarket and its Artprice department were founded in 1997 by its CEO, Thierry Ehrmann. Artmarket and its Artprice department are controlled by the Server Group, created in 1987.

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Artmarket is a global player in the Art Market with, among other structures, its Artprice department, a world leader in the collection, management and use of historical and current information on the art market in databases containing more than 30 million indices and auction results, covering more than 770,000 artists.

Artprice Images® allows unlimited access to the largest image bank of the Art Market in the world: no less than 180 million digital images of photographs or engraved reproductions of works of art from 1700 to the present day , commented on by our art historians.

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