Artprice: the Art Market snaps up the new “Classics of Contemporary Art”
The Art Market might have seemed a little hungover in early 2019... in need of some event that would reassure everyone… and that's exactly what New York's prestige sales did last week. The results proved that the hammer prices recorded in Q1 in London, notably for David Hockney and Claude Monet, as well as in Hong Kong for Zhang Daqian and Kaws, reflect a new paradigm that is generally favorable for the global Art Market as a whole.
Evolution of the record auction price for a living artist
Collective work thierry Ehrmann - The Abode of Chaos (Left)
thierry Ehrmann, Artprice's founder/CEO, is delighted: “Within just five days, Christie's, Sotheby's, Phillips and Bonhams organized 16 sales in New York generating a total turnover of $2.06 billion! François Pinault's organisation achieved the best performance thanks to a Post-War & Contemporary Art evening sale that alone took $539 million from just 51 lots sold.
Not only is demand strong for the best artworks… above all the market seems to have moved into a new paradigm that will allow it to renew its offer: it can now produce new ‘classics' by offering ‘masterpieces of Contemporary art'.
This is what we saw with Jeff Koons' Rabbit (1986) sculpture. It was presented by Christie's as an ‘icon' of Contemporary Art, in the same way as paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and probably certain works by Damien Hirst as well. But we will have to wait until the next big sales to see confirmation of this trend.”
Jeff Koons is now more expensive than Van Gogh or Rubens...
A new record of $91 million – making Jeff Koons the world's most valued living artist – also gives him a special place in Art History... To everyone's surprise, his Rabbit (1986) became more expensive on the auction market than any of Van Gogh's works to date. The Dutch master's record is still standing at $82.5 million since his Portrait du Docteur Gachet sold in 1990.
Only 11 artists in auction history have ever generated results above the Jeff Koons Rabbit: da Vinci, Picasso, Modigliani, Bacon, Qi Baishi, Munch, Monet, Basquiat, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Hopper. If the Jeff Koons Market has been somewhat dormant in recent years, it is now completely revived... And with him, the entire Contemporary Art machine has received a boost.
Rauschenberg at the top
Two years after his retrospective at the MoMA and the Tate Modern, Robert Rauschenberg is a bright star of the auction market. The American artist-sculptor, who campaigned for the introduction of artists' resale rights after the sale of the Robert Scull collection in 1973, probably didn't imagine that his works would ever reach such amounts.
On 15 May 2019, his Buffalo II reached $88 million at Christie's. Locked up for 54 years in the collection of Robert B. Mayer, who acquired it directly from the Leo Castelli Gallery, this painting is both an ode to and a critique of the American Dream. This new record puts him in the same league as his contemporaries Andy Warhol ($105.4 million) and Roy Lichtenstein ($96.4 million).
Monet triggers the 10th best-ever Fine Art auction result of all time
As exciting as a summer soap opera...! After the announcement of the sale of Claude Monet's (1840-1926) Meules at Sotheby's NY on 14 May, the question of a possible record was on everyone's lips! The last haystacks painting auctioned – with similar dimensions, date and composition – fetched more than $80 million at Christie's NY in November 2016. Monet's absolute record dates back to the sale of the Rockefeller collection in May 2018 when his Nymphéas en fleur fetched nearly $85 million (also at Christie's NY)… The suspense is now over: for eight long minutes on 14 May six bidders competed for the masterpiece. Harry Dalmeny finally brought the hammer down at $110.7 million. That's more than 40 times its previous value: already sold in 1986 for $2.53 million, the work belonged to the descendants of Bertha and Potter Palmer, wealthy Chicago collectors, who acquired the Meules painting through Paul Durand-Ruel in 1891.
Sotheby's had already set the bar high – betting on the work's prestigious provenance – giving the work a low estimate of $55 million (a fact that did not go unnoticed in the art press)... However, in the end, an Impressionist painting has crossed the symbolic threshold of $100 million for the first time ever. Meules also enters the Top 10 most expensive artworks ever sold publicly. The interest for the Impressionists and 19th century works is undeniable, despite the attraction for Contemporary Art and the new generation of bidders arriving on the market. Asian collectors are particularly enthusiastic and are now contribute to the stability of this section of the market.
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