New York Art Market Forecast
Manhattan Art Auctions
While China has become the world’s No. 1 market facing the United-States in fine art sales on 2016, New York retains its leading position on the art market ahead of Beijing, Hong-Kong or London. Despite a global decline in art sales last year, New York auction houses gather strength and display new high sales on the first half of 2017. Within an increasingly qualitative and exacting market, how we characterize new buyer behaviors and who benefits from this new impetus?
2016, a challenging year
According to the website Artmarket.com, owned by the largest database for auctioneering and worth of art Artprice.com, New York ends the year 2016 at the top of fine art sales with $3.2Bn, and followed by Beijing at $2.3Bn. London ($2.1Bn) and Hong-Kong ($1.15Bn) close the list at over one billion dollars of auctioned art. Although these results might seem impressive to outsiders, we must note that the art market has fallen sharply since 2015. Over the past year, top 20 auction houses worldwide recorded negative sales average of -14%. Among the major art marketplaces affected by the drop sales, New York has seen its own market fall. Spring auctions are a trustworthy way to test trends and market health for the year ahead. For 5 days, greatest auction houses organize sales with extremely prestigious line-up. In May 2016, auctions reached $1.1Bn against $2.7Bn for the same sales set in 2015. This gap represents almost 60% negative growth. Major auction houses in New York fine art sector were the most affected by the global decrease. Over the whole 2016 year, Christie’s New York lost -43.2% of activities; Sotheby’s New York -41.1%; Phillips New York -14.7% and Bonhams -24.4%.
An exacting market
In order to gain a new breath and revitalize the art market for the year 2017, auction houses had increased their line-up quality. For the spring sales 2017 opening, Christie’s presents Modern Art & Impressionist Art Evening Sale line-up estimated at $200M, against $138M on May 2016. Two days after, Postwar and Contemporary Evening Sale line-up was valued at $370M, in excess of $90M on the 2016 presale estimate. Both sales were successful with a total of $289M and $448M respectively. Bidders clashed each other for the sculpture of Constantin Brancusi “The Sleeping Muse” (1913), estimated between $25-35M and sold for $57.4M. At Phillips, the increase line-up went from $50-61M on 2016 to $107M for 20th Century and Contemporary Art Sale. Once again, estimates got defeated by results with $110.3M. Sale aim has been reached by breaking current Peter Doing’s canvas auction record. Phillips hammer fell at $28.3M, above last Christie’s result of $25M. With regard to Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Sale, presale estimate is almost equal to the one on May 2016. However, line-up masterpiece Jean-Michel Basquiat’s canvas Untitled (1982) was valued in excess of $60M. This amount goes beyond the last Basquiat sale record of $57.7M sold by Christie’s in 2016. With Untitled (1982), Sotheby’s placed the artist’s rating once and for all in the history with an auction sale at $110.5M.
Despite the fact that results are much better in 2017, unsold rate remains high for some auctions. For the two first evening sale, Christie’s unsold 22% of line-up and 29% for Sotheby’s. Some great signatures as Picasso, Degas, Van Gogh didn’t found new owners. Art market is still inclined to hesitations. Bidders get interest mostly for artist’s masterpieces and neglect minors works of art. This is the sign of an increasingly demanding market.
Best results for Postwar and Contemporary Art
Postwar and Contemporary Art sectors are by far the most profitable sales. Painters of this period achieve an equal prestige to impressionism and modern artists. For its Postwar and Contemporary Evening Sale, Christie’s sold two canvas above $50M, Cy Twombly Leda and the Swan (1962) for $52.8M and a(1963) at $51.7M. The new record artist for contemporary art, Jean-Michel Basquiat, realized a double achievement by breaking its own rating two years in a row. First record of $57.7M in 2016 appeared contrasted with the bad global market results. This year, with a favorable market, Sotheby’s did an auction sale above $100M for a Basquiat’s canvas. It is the fist time for a such recent artist to get in the very restricted artists club at over $100M. We can note that The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London have not yet hosted Basquiat’s retrospective. Contemporary Art sector increased of +1340% since 2000 all over the world. Once again, New York leads the market by breaking all records.
New York contemporary art market isn’t afraid by selling art recently produced. French expression of Accursed Artist (Artiste Maudit) seems to have come to an end. Nowadays, artists still alive get auctioned off and raise bidders interest. Rosendale (1991) from Peter Doig, born in 1959, got sold at Phillips for $28.3M. Another young artist born in 1968, Mark Grotjahn, has seen one of its recent work of art Untitled (2011) sold for $16M. Among all young artists sold during spring sales week 2017, Njideka Akunyili CROSBY recorded the best results. While she got auctioned off for the first time in 2016, its three canvas has amassed $4.8M this year.
New selling mediums
At last, some new modern mediums could increase sells. For example, use social network to get broader line-up communication. Instagram seems appear as the most relevant. More and more sales are being made thanks to this application. The website AuctionAfterSale enables to give a second chance to unsold lots. For auction houses partners, withdrawn lots are automatically proposed on the website without any fee increase. If any new customer does a proposition for a lot, AuctionAfterSale sends it to auction house. If price matches, sell is done.
In a certain way, New York art market can appear as the health barometer for world art market. If he’s such sensitive to global art fluctuations, it’s because he leads the market. After a challenging year in 2016, the market breathes freely again. With a growing interest for young artists and new selling mediums, New York art market is able to go above its best sale records.
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