(source here) Sales of contemporary art at Christie’s were up 16% in the first half of the year to total £665.4 million ($1 billion), while sales of Impressionist and modern works dropped slightly. U.S. sales by value were also 28% higher than they were in the same period last year.
Given the fact that Christie’s sold $640 million of post-war and contemporary art in a single week in New York in May, neither of these two developments are wildly surprising. What is encouraging, though, is that it is not just sales of gazillion dollar works of art by the likes of Lichtenstein and Basquiat that are propping up the market.
Christie's has reported stronger interest in contemporary art estimated at $100,000 or less.
Christie’s reports that its contemporary art sales attracted a 52% increase in new clients that were bidding on works estimated at £100,000 or less. To mere mortals (like me), £100,000 or even £10,0oo is still a massive wad of cash, but any sign that the contemporary art market is attracting more broad-based support and is not solely reliant on the deep pockets of a few trophy-hunting billionaires to keep it growing is definitely a good thing.
Before we get too excited, though, it’s worth remembering that the most recent snapshots of state of the global art market have been less sparkling. Artnet’s analysis of auction house sales for the first half of the year show that global sales are still down 3% from where they were at the same point last year, even after an extremely strong second quarter.
Finally, while Christie’s reported an increase in private sales in the first half of 2013 over the same period last year, which is now a pretty established trend at the top auction houses, we can only only hazard a guess at what’s going on in the wider private market that accounts for over 50% of global transactions.