ArtPrice launches new index: ArtPrice100®

The French art market database creates a new index focusing on blue-chip artists exclusively.

Touted as a scientific index, ArtPrice100® represents the latest tool in ArtPrice’s kit for art buyers and investors alike. Aimed at helping the decision-making process of buying or investing in art, ArtPrice100® was launched by ArtPrice on 31 January 2018.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, 'Infantry', 1983. Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Infantry’, 1983. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

ArtPrice100® is an index that monitors and measures the gradual, long-term growth of the art market, by focusing on 100 blue-chip artists. ArtPrice determines these blue-chip artists by identifying the 100 top-performing artists at auction across the past five year-period who also meet an additional criteria, with stipulations such as that at least ten works of comparable quality are sold per year. Each artist is weighted in the index proportionately to his or her annual auction turnover during the past five years.

The top five artists that sit atop the ArtPrice100® list published in 2017 are, in order, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Zhang Daqian, Qi Baishi and Gerhard Richter. Other artists that were ranked amongst the top 100 include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Zao Wou-ki, Xu Beihong and Wu Guanzhong. A work by Jean-Michel Basquiat had recently made headlines in May 2017 for selling for USD110.5 million at Sotheby’s, becoming the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction. ArtPrice had previously reported Basquiat as the highest-grossing American artist at auction, with 80 of his works fetching USD171.5 million.

Zao Wou-Ki, '29.09.64', 1964, oil on canvas 230 x 345 cm. Image courtesy Christie's Hong Kong.

Zao Wou-Ki, ‘29.09.64’, 1964, oil on canvas, 230 x 345 cm. Image courtesy Christie’s Hong Kong.

ArtPrice hopes that the identification of the top 100 artists for the market, based on its analysis of their performance over a five year period, will allow the quantifying of the “most stable segment of the Art Market”. Much of this analysis is derived from the market information that it gathers; ArtPrice boasts a complete index of 673,081 artists listed on the database. The result, ArtPrice hopes, is a “new benchmark in a financial world constantly searching for new investment opportunities in efficient markets”.

Making a comparison to major stock indices such as the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100 in its announcement, ArtPrice’s Artprice100® aims to provide a reliable and durable benchmark for art investment. CEO Thierry Ehrmann remarks that the new index ignores the most volatile artists (those most subject to the price impact of fashion and speculation) and focuses exclusively on the art market’s blue-chip artists”, resulting in the ability to show “that art is an extremely competitive financial investment over the longer term”.

Wu Guanzhong, 'Peach Blossoms', 1973, oil on canvas, 61.1 x 46.3 cm. Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Wu Guanzhong, ‘Peach Blossoms’, 1973, oil on canvas, 61.1 x 46.3 cm. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

ArtPrice was founded in 1987 by CEO Thierry Ehrmann, who is also the founder of its parent company The Server Group. The Server Group manages databases of art auction quotations, one of which is ArtPrice. To date, ArtPrice reports over 30 million indices and auction results covering more than 700,000 artists; it also provides a library of 126 million images or prints of artworks from the year 1700 to the present day, accompanied by annotations by art historians. It currently has over 400 million members.

Junni Chen


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Rich swap stocks for art: Investment, passion or a bit of both?


A recent Deloitte-ArtTactic study concludes that the wealthy are allocating more funds to art, driving up art prices to record levels, despite the global financial crisis and flat or negatively performing equity markets. What is behind this trend and is it sustainable, or even true?

'I Can See the Whole Room… and There’s Nobody in It!' (1961) by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein was bought in 1988 for USD2 million and in 2011 fetched USD43.2 million at auction. Photo credit: Christie's via Bloomberg.

Art outperforming the S&P 500?

As Patrick Mathurin of the Financial Times highlights in his (much contested) January 2012 article,

The art market defied the economic gloom to return 11 percent to investors in 2011, outpacing stock market returns for a second consecutive year. The performance of the Mei Moses All Art Index, a leading barometer of art returns based mainly on paintings sold in New York and London, beat the total return of the S&P 500 Index of US equities by about 9 percentage points. The gap, the largest since 2008, was driven by strong growth in Chinese demand and high prices for the work of popular artists such as Andy Warhol.

Click here to read our article on Chinese version of the Mei Moses Index, published on Art Radar in 2009.

Chang Dai Chien (Zhang Daqian, 1899 – 1983) recently became the top revenue-earning artist at auction, beating Pablo Picasso.

Rising art prices: Bubble in the making or shift in market dynamics?

Despite Mathurin’s confident stance on art as a burgeoning investment option, some in the industry are sticking by their belief that art is neither a good investment nor a valid investment asset class and that not just any wealthy art enthusiast could buy art and make a killing. However, the Deloitte-ArtTactic study highlights fundamental changes that suggest that the “playing” of the art market is not only here to stay, but that it is poised to grow substantially, not just amongst the super-rich but also among those simply with high net worth. This could largely be a result of the impact of technology, the growth of infrastructure supporting art investment and the rise of China’s art market.

Technology and the art market

The Internet and the development of online art fairs, online art exchanges and auctions are changing the way art is promoted, valued and transacted, and is helping to increase transparency, liquidity and the geographical reach of the art market.

A pilot art market opened in a north Chinese city called Tianjin to allow small investors to buy shares in the ownership of art works.

Infrastructure supporting art as an asset class

There is increasing accessibility and liquidity to support investment in art due to the growth of art funds (conservatively estimated at USD960 million in 2011 and growing), the availability of art loans (where artworks are used as collateral) and increasing art advisory and art related services offered by private wealth managers.

Selling and buying art in China

The demand for Chinese art has been supported by a boom in art funds (the worth of which was estimated at over USD320m in 2011) and the growth of art exchanges (there are currently six exchanges, with another thirty in the process of development). Cultural industries have also been singled out by the local government as one of the key drivers to be supported strategically for the country’s economic growth.

Zeng Fanzhi's record-breaking 'Mask Series No. 6' (1996) was sold for just over HKD75 million (USD9.7 million) at Christie's Hong Kong in 2008.

The A in SWAG

Joe Roseman, creator of the acronym ‘SWAG’, which denotes the assets silver, wine, art and gold, is among those that believe in art as an asset class. He notes that the value of tangible assets, such as those in the SWAG grouping, can only go up as prices are fueled by increasingly indebted governments printing more money, leading desperate investors to rush to protect their wealth by investing in physical assets, which are typically limited in supply, have longevity, are perceived as desirable, correlate to rising wealth and are easily stored and transported. Nowhere is this capital preservation instinct more obvious than in China, a country that, according to market information provider Artprice, has the largest art market in the world by fine art auction revenue.

So, can (and should) art be classified as an asset class for investment purposes? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


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Habits of 7 top collectors – Wall Street Journal


A recent article published in The Wall Street Journal gives us a rare peek into the minds and habits of seven top international collectors, each of whom reveal some useful tips on what kind of art to buy, and when and how to buy it. What strategies are these collectors employing?

One of the top collectors the article nabs a quote or two from is the Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad. Broad, a philanthropist who together with his wife Edythe has built up one of the world’s most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art, frankly expresses his doubts about the price of contemporary art today.

If you look at prices that artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat are getting – and look back at some of the old Masters available for a fraction of that price – you have to wonder.

Click here to read the entire article, called “Following the Smart Art Money”, in The Wall Street Journal.

Eli and Edyth Broad, image The Broad Foundation

Eli and Edyth Broad.

Fluctuating markets: Knowledge the weapon

One of the strategies that collectors use to stay ahead of the market is to become experts in or even scholars of the kind of art that they collect, as has Tom Pritzker, Chairman and President of The Hyatt Foundation and collector of Buddhist and Hindu antiquities.

To better understand the imagery and history of Tibetan art, Pritzker and his wife, Margot, have hiked the Himalayas; he’s now an adjunct professor at China’s Sichuan University and writes academic papers parsing the merits of art made during South Asia’s first-century Kushan dynasty.

Margot and Tom Pritzker. Image Chicagobusiness

Margot and Tom Pritzker.

Aside from possessing an astute intellectual understanding of the works they own, the Pritzkers also have a very personal approach to their collection.

If we find a piece we like, we’ll tell the dealer to send it to us so we can live with it for a couple of weeks and see if it stands up to the rest of the collection.

Market trends: Be wary

Art literacy is also the strategy that Scott M. Black uses against sudden market shifts. Founder of Delphi Management and member of the boards of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, Black is a top collector of Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Modern paintings. Operating under the motto of “save up and bide your time”, Black’s way of collecting is based on a long term vision and as such he is very aware of market trends and “fashions”.

When the Japanese began bidding up Impressionist in the 1980s, Black said he turned to ‘non blockbuster’ painters of the same period like Belgian pointillist Van Rysselberghe.

Scott Black. Image Bloomberg News

Scott M. Black.

Finding hidden gems

Trying to find the hidden gems in the market is something that Blackstone Group’s vice chairman J. Tomilson Hill always aims to do. As a collector of Renaissance bronzes, Hill believes that the very sought after Renaissance sculptor Giambologna is nowadays “overpriced”. Instead, he “is now going after works by Ferdinando Tacca, a “slightly misunderstood” Italian 17th century bronze sculptor.

J. Tomilson Hill. Getty Image

J. Tomilson Hill.

Other collectors mentioned in the post include Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, a collector of Latin American art and founder of the Fondacion Cisneros, philanthropist Ronald Perelman, a collector of Modern and contemporary art, Art Deco and modern furniture, London billionaire and philanthropist Lily Safra and Michael Steinhardt, a collector of mainly antiquities and member of Christie’s American Advisory Board.


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Which museums are collecting Chinese contemporary art? New database just released


The AW Asia gallery in New York has just released a valuable new resource for collectors and researchers intererested in Chinese contemporary art. Searchable by artist or museum its database, which is available online at no cost, lists Chinese artists held in permanent museum collections around the world.

According to AW Asia, the “Chinese Contemporary Art in Museum Collections” database is the first international compilation of its kind, which currently represents 42 contemporary Chinese artists and 67 domestic and international museums.

Artists include heavyweight internationally-recognised multimedia artists such as Ai Weiwei, Cai Guoqiang, Zhang Huan and Xu Bing, photographers such as Cang Xin, Hong Hao, Weng Fen and Hai Bo, ink artists Gu Wenda and Yun-fei Ji , Cynical Realist artists such as Yue Minjun, sculptors including Zhan Wang  and video artists Yang Fudong and Yang Zhenzhong.

AW Asia, a private organization in New York City that promotes Chinese contemporary art through institutional loans and acquisitions, curatorial projects, publishing, and educational programs.

Although the database is not yet comprehensive, it starts to shed light on which international museums are validating contemporary Chinese art. If you are a curator or museum representative with additional information regarding Chinese contemporary art in a permanent museum collection, AW Asia would like to hear from you. Please write to

As the database is still under development Art Radar would like to suggest an additional feature:  a feed so that news sources can be alerted to the latest additions to museum collections. In the meantime, congratulations on creating a useful new resource.

Click to visit the Chinese contemporary art in museums database.

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Mei Moses art index founder plans Chinese version, optimistic about Chinese art


The current state of Chinese art prices was discussed  before members of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of China who had gathered at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) to hear a dialogue between UCCA director Jerome Sans and Cheung Kong GSB professor  Mei Jianping.

Mei Jianping is founder of the Mei Moses art index. Using a database of over 15,000 art pieces drawn from publicly available Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction prices, the Mei-Moses index demonstrates that investments in quality art, in the long term, deliver higher returns than bonds and gold. The index has received criticisms from some quarters for survivor-biassed results  – the index only tracks the prices of works which sell and ignores works which remain unsold. Supporters point out that stock market indices are similarly biassed and ignore companies which drop out of the index or go bankrupt. Despite these contrary views, the index remains one of the most widely referenced indices by press sources.

Professor Mei noted that

art prices frequently track the economic development of the artist’s home culture, citing how most American art from the 1950s has dramatically increased in value since. He then went on to describe prices at the peak of the Chinese art market last year as artificially high, buoyed by speculation.

Director Sans noted that

  • any trend with 10 years of momentum behind it cannot be regarded as mere hype
  • half of the top 20 selling artists in the world are Chinese
  • no collection or retrospective of contemporary art today would be complete without one or two Chinese artists which is a dramatic change from a decade ago.

At the conclusion of the talk Mei Jan-Ping affirmed his belief that the “long-term prospects for Chinese art as an investment, in spite of the current economic climate, were great”. He is sufficiently optimistic  about the long term interest of the Chinese people in the art market that according to Chinese Radio International he is now working on a Chinese version of his index.
Source: Cheung Kong GSB News 

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