Art auctions hit records in 2022 despite tight global economy

Published March 14th, 2023 - 10:58 GMT
Art auction boom
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ALBAWABA — More than a million artworks were put up for auction for the first time in 2022 despite a tight global economy, according to a report released on Tuesday.


Artprice by published its 26th annual report titled "The Art Market in 2022" which said more traditional art, particularly paintings, saw a bumper year.


“The migration to the Internet of auction houses has taken on spectacular proportions with, on the one hand, a 2,700 percent increase in the advertising of auctions on the Internet and, on the other hand, and 810 percent increase in the live-stream sales over the three years of the Covid pandemic. Such figures were generally not expected before 2025-2027,” Thierry Ehrmann, chief executive officer of and founder of Artprice, said in the report.


"Twenty years ago, selling a work of art took several months. Today, they are sold in a few days," added Ehrmann.


The report said that global turnover was at a fourth all time high of $16.5 billion, after the highs of 2011 ($18.5 billion), 2014 ($18 billion) and 2021 ($17 billion), that saw more than a million artworks were put up for auction, and 704,747 sold, up 4.7 percent year-on-year with British auction house Christie's seeing six artworks that surpassed $100 million each.


"One might be forgiven for thinking that the world's problems have had no impact on the art auction market," the report said. "Indeed, for certain masterpieces of art history, the year 2022 saw more intense competition than ever before."


Global art auction revenues fell slightly year-on-year, from $17 billion to $16.5 billion, due to the slowdown in the Chinese market, which was still under strict zero-Covid restrictions and saw its art sales fall by 34 percent to $3.9 billion.


The rest of the world posted remarkable growth of 16 percent mainly due to the United States, which generated 26 percent more than in 2021, adding $1.5 billion, while seeing a Marilyn Monroe portrait by Andy Warhol fetch $195 million, the highest-ever for an American work of art.


Overall, the art market top three remained dominated by the United States, China and Britain, which together accounted for 81 percent of global sales as the Chinese art market contracted sharply, dropping $2 billion, the American market gained $1.5 billion to reach an all-time high of $7.34 billion while the British market returned to its pre-pandemic level, with a total of $2.1 billion.


Rounding out the top 10, France was in fourth place with $991 million, followed by Germany with $379 million, Italy with $190 million, Japan with $185 million, Switzerland with $154 million, South Korea with $139 million and Australia with $118 million.


Picasso’s works generated $494 million last year which kept the artist the most sought-after historically. 


In 2022, Christie's set a historic new record for its Fine Art and NFT auction activities around the world with a total turnover of $5.8 billion, up from $4 billion in 2021, followed by Sotheby as the second-largest fine art auctioneer with $3.9 billion, compared to $4.4 billion in 2021.


Christie's and Sotheby's accounted for more than half of the total global value of the secondary art market, hammering 35 percent and 24 percent of global art auction turnover respectively.


The outlook for 2023 is distinctly positive in view of the initial results and the anticipated uptick in China's art auction activity.



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