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The 2010/2011 Artprice Annual Report on the Contemporary Art Market (Demo)

Download: The 2010/2011 Artprice Annual Report
Pages 63 to 73 lists the top 500 artists in the world based on sales from July 1st 2010 to June 30th 2011

During this past year (2010-2011), financial market jitters and poor economic indicators on both sides of the Atlantic have put additional wind into sails of two assets: gold and art.

In effect, fuelled by the deepening debt crisis, the slowing economies of Europe and the United States during H1 and the difficulties encountered by banks, confidence in traditional financial assets has melted away in favour of gold1 (whose price has doubled in two years) and art, which posted the best secondary market performance in its history in the first semester of 2011. Contrary to standard assumptions, the crisis of 2008 hit the art market instantaneously, without any lag. In 2011, the market has adopted a far more philosophical approach, particularly after the painful experiences of 2008, and it now represents a viable alternative to the different classes of assets whose values have been seriously damaged by the crisis. The art market’s new and emerging strategies (online auction sales, accelerated information circulation, network connection of market’s players at a global level, opening of markets, etc.) is tending to encourage and facilitate investment in this sector, which is no longer reserved for insiders. Historical logic suggests that only masterpieces by the Old Masters, Modern artists and Impressionists that have withstood the test of time can be considered as safe investments. In effect, the bulk of today’s most sought-after works – and hence the most expensive – are by artists born between 1850 and 1950.

During the first half of 2011, Modern works of art generated total auction revenue of €2.365 billion versus €792 million for Post-War works and €496.8 million for works by Contemporary artists. Works created in the 19st century accounted for €361 million and Old Masters for €317 million. Hence in 2011, out of the 100 best results, only 8 were generated by Contemporary artworks compared with 15 in 2008 (signed by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and the other Contemporary stars). Despite the volatility of the Contemporary market (+30% between 2004 and 2005, -38% between 2008 and October 2009, +27% over the recent period July 2010 – June 2011), there is a fast growing populations of non-professional collectors at art fairs and auction houses. The art market’s balance sheet over the past decade is generally very positive with prices up 50% from 2001 to 2011. This means that, besides gold, the art market represents a particularly profitable alternative investment, particularly at its top end.