Remote auctions, the new standard in the art market

Published by the leading information company on the art market, this report covers the results of “Fine Art”: paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints, videos, installations, tapestries, excluding the furniture, automobiles, etc.

Under the impact of successive confinements, remote auctions have become the new standard in one year, up to sales entirely online, without an auctioneer. “The art market has rebounded through digital technology, which it has totally invested in, which has made it possible to limit the drop in turnover”, underlines Thierry Ehrmann, president of Artprice, who sees it as a “revolution”. “It’s a spectacular change that has worked beyond expectations and despite the reluctance of some auction houses” attached to the old face-to-face methods, he analyzes.

The reasons for the limitation of losses? “There is a sociological evolution. Internet auctions bring in new customers, the 30/40 year olds, who did not have access to or did not support the old regime. It is often contemporary art (which weighs heavily) for 16% of the market) that they come to buy. It is the locomotive today. The presentation of works in 3D on the Internet is attractive “, he explains. The evolution is also geographical: “There are no longer any time zones to order. A Belgian or Swedish house, for example, will discover new areas of wealth, customers in Singapore, Indonesia, for example.”

“This market was thirty years behind, it reached a new equilibrium in one year, which the most optimistic projections predicted in 2025”, he congratulated himself.

More people online “also implies more competition”. Very positive sales rate (76%) “is thus based on this renewed audience, coupled with prudent price estimates to be attractive”, underlines the report.

The Chinese performance is impressive: China has returned to first place in the world after four years where the United States had beaten it. It weighs 39% of the “Fine Art” market against 27% in the United States, where the outbreak of the epidemic has had a strong impact on the market, and 15% in the United Kingdom.

Already, a study published by Artprice in the fall had shown that the Chinese were 395 (against 165 Americans) in the “top 1000” of the most popular artists.

Despite its takeover by China, Hong Kong maintains its rank. For example, the American house Sotheby’s achieved a quarter of its turnover there.

In addition, a strong demand for contemporary figurative painting is observed, in particular that linked to Africa, for example by the young Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo.

In a pandemic period and faced with the standardization of objects, “the high-end market is maintained for a lively, joyful and daring figurative painting”, notes Artprice again. Evidenced by the good auctions of Roy Lichtenstein (our photo) and David Hockney, and the records achieved by the Franco-Chinese artist San Yu.

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