Lots of fine art sold and unsold at first quarter auctions since 2000
thierry Ehrmann, president and founder of Artmarket.com and its Artprice department, recognizes that “it is still a little early to disentangle the effects of each of the powerful factors currently shaking the art market: Covid, Brexit, NFT, etc. But their consequences are already visible ”.
Artprice is therefore redoubling its efforts to ensure continuous monitoring of the most sensitive market indicators and closely monitor its general state of health. Artprice wishes to share the conclusions of its econometrics department in order to contribute to market transparency.
1. A record number of transactions
Despite the logistical complications linked to the health crisis, auctions of works of art have never been as numerous as in Q1 2021. In total, 112,200 lots were sold worldwide, or 6% of more than in Q1 2019 (105,600 lots sold). The digital transition initiated by the major auction houses has enabled the emergence of an online market particularly suited to the middle market.
2. A falling unsold rate
A key indicator of the balance between supply and demand on the market, the unsold rate varied only slightly over the period 2010-2019, fluctuating between 31% and 34%. In other words, the art market has become accustomed to seeing a third of the lots offered for auction fail to reach their reserve price. But in the first quarter of 2021, only one in four sales (25%) failed: demand is therefore increasing a little faster than supply!
3. A gradual geographic rebalancing
First quarter sales are generally dominated by London, which hosts the first prestige sales of the year. In 2021, the agenda had to be postponed by several weeks but was nevertheless brought forward. However, the dominance of the British capital seems weakened: London accounted for 37% of global revenue in Q1 2021 compared to 48% in Q1 2019. new York, which managed to generate 27% of global revenue in the first three months of the year, appears to be the biggest beneficiary.
4. The NFT revolution
The sale of Beeple’s NFT Everyday marked the start of a possible revolution in the art market. The work was purchased for $ 69 million in a Christie’s online auction using the Ether cryptocurrency. Indeed, this new market seems to have become even more “ intangible ” since Sotheby’s generated $ 16.8 million by selling “The Fungible Collection”, a digital work available online in unlimited quantities and created by the anonymous and mysterious Pak.
5. Red chips dethrone blue chips
Since the end of 2020, art auctions around the world have achieved surprising results for extremely recent works. Journalist Scott reyburn (in The Art Newspaper) cites, as an example, Christie’s “20th century: Hong Kong at new York“sale on December 2, 2020 and said he was surprised to see Dana schutz Canvas Elevator (2017) seek $ 6.5 million and Andy Warhol’s “classic” Campbell’s Soup Can (1962) sell for just $ 6.1 million (especially since the latter has reached $ 7.4 million in 2014). Reyburn concludes that the arrival of new collectors, in search of the latest novelties (“red-chips”) goes beyond the desire to own “blue-chip” works of art.
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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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