Artprice saw a record number of art auction transactions in the first half of 2021


PARIS, September 21, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Throughout the first half of 2021, still heavily hampered by the health crisis, the art auction market ensured the continued diffusion of works of art. In fact, the major auction houses have succeeded in creating a much more attractive image of their activities through a clever mix of online sales, thematic and charitable sales and a daring collaboration with what is traditionally referred to as the “primary market”. Additionally, auctioneers have finally opened their doors to dematerialized artwork, surfing a wave of ultra-contemporary art that has also caught the attention of the mainstream media.

Weekly development of global auction sales in the fine art sector

Comparison of the last five years

Weekly development of global auction turnover in the field of fine arts, compared over the last five years

Thierry Ehrmann, CEO and Founder of and its Artprice department:

Artprice has the highest number of successful fine art reviews in the world, an increase of + 10.5% compared to the first half of 2019, which has already set a historic record.

The lack of international fairs has clearly redirected some collectors to the auction houses (live or online), however the growth in transaction volume predates the health crisis and is basically just starting all over again. “

High-end market vs. affordable market

After a chaotic 2020, the art market’s auction agenda has essentially returned to normal, especially with the resumption of the New Yorks Spring sale. The meetings organized in week 19 (from 10 to May 16, 2021) summed up $ 1.5 billion in new Yorkwhich equates to 21% of global art auction sales in the first half of 2021.

However, our data for the H1 period suggests that the art market is still relatively affordable: Of the 302,100 lots auctioned worldwide, 51% were for less than $ 1,000including buyers’ fees. And unlike the ultra-high-end market, these affordable works were offered and sold very evenly throughout the year. Even in the months of July and August, which are usually characterized by a complete standstill, online sales mean that there is little activity on the art market.

Lots of fine arts that were filtered by price range auctioned (H1 2021)

Lots of fine arts that were filtered by price range auctioned (H1 2021)

Lots of fine arts that were filtered by price range auctioned (H1 2021)

Hong Kong against the trend …

The former British colony now plays an important role in the international strategies of the major auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips and Bonhams, but also of China guardian and Poly Auction, and together they did Hong Kong the most luxurious art market in the world.

Only 3,200 fine art works were sold in Hong Kong in the first half of 2021, but they almost amounted to $ 1 billion ($ 962 million). In fact, the average price of a work of art is in Hong Kong Auctions in the first half of 2021 totaled $ 300,000! A price that sets Hong Kong apart from new York (average price $ 41,000), London ($ 32,000) and Paris ($ 10,600), and from the rest of China ($ 94,000).

In just six months, 18 lots were overhauled $ 10 million in Hong Kong although none reached $ 50 million. Today, Hong Kong The ultra-high-end market is as intense as London, and nine times larger than that Paris Market (where two lots the $ 10 million Threshold in the same period). In mainland China, only eight lots were sold for more than $ 10 million in the same period, but the $ 50 million the threshold was exceeded again (for a work from the 18th Xu Yang).

First “unlimited” sale

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

The centerpiece of the collection was the Open Editions, which enabled collectors to purchase any number of fungible cubes at fixed prices during the sales period. The sales time was three times 15 minutes, spread over three days, and the price rose daily. It resulted in Sale of 23,598 digital cubes: 19,737 cubes at $ 500 on day 1; 3.268 cubes at $ 1,000 on day 2 and 593 dice around $ 1,500 on day 3. In addition to these small jobs, There were two unique lots (The desk for $ 1.44 million and The pixel for 1.35 million US dollars) as well as several “awards”. Some NFTs (possibly worth millions of dollars) have been given out to the best buyers as well as anyone who has managed to solve a puzzle invented by Pak.

This extraordinary session not only questioned the perception of a digital work of art and its “property”, but also the imagination the added value in the ‘art market 2.0’, in which the offer can be multiplied more cheaply.




Copyright 1987-2021 Thierry Ehrmann

About art market: is listed on the Eurolist of Euronext Paris, SRD long only and Euroclear: 7478 – Bloomberg: PRC – Reuters: ARTF.

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