Art market shifts from New York to London – Artprice

MARKET WATCH GLOBAL ART SALES

The growing interest shown by emerging markets (China, the United Arab Emirates, India…) and good performances from traditional markets resulted in spectacular figures for the first half of 2008. This has silenced the sceptics who were still expecting economic woes to have a knock-on effect on auctions. The first Half of 2008 at auctions has so far countered gloomy and alarmist prophecies of a recession with sales of EUR 3.8bn (more or less equivalent to the EUR 3.7bn for the same period of 2007) and 504 bids over a million euros compared to 517 as of July 1st 2007. The art market has repeated the record performance reached in 2007 without beating it.

The big surprise comes from the UK which has not only unseated the US at the top of the sales tables but sold fine art worth more than GBP 1.5bn, or GBP 220m more than over the same period in the preceding year. 256 works in London went for more than a million euros, with 2 of the 3 highest global deals in the first half including a Claude Monet sold for EUR 46m and a Francis Bacon that fetched EUR 31m. For the first time in 20 years, the US has lost the first place to the UK.

But although the UK and the US are fighting it out over the top step on the podium, they still share most of the cake with 77% of global sales volume. China and France are far behind in 3rd and 4th position respectively with a combined 11% of global sales.

France, beaten for the first time by China in 2007, is slowing down, a constant decline confirmed by cautious buyers. Despite well-publicised sales in May that showcased major works by Francis Bacon or Louise Bourgeois, France posted a number of no-sales that was a world record: 50% of works on offer failed to sell!

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