As at 1 January 2021, the Artprice
Global Indices are stronger actually stronger than twelve months earlier when the health crisis was still (almost) unthinkable. Six months ago no-one would have predicted such an outcome! In reality, the art market reacted quickly to the lockdown measures with auction houses slowing their high-end activities; but the overall intensity of trading remained extremely high and the unsold rate remained perfectly stable. The Contemporary Art price index even shows an extraordinary 48% increase.
Thierry Ehrmann, President and Founder of Artmarket.com and its Artprice department: "the works that were resold at auction in 2020 generally fetched better prices. Two segments in particular stood out: works on paper (+55%) and Contemporary Art (+48%). However, you have to take into account the method used to calculate our indices and anticipate the fact that they tend to flatten naturally over time".
Auctions and repeat sales
Auction sales correspond to the visible segment of the Art Market and it's probably the segment that has best adapted to the consequences of the pandemic by accelerating its switch to an online modus operandi. Artprice's 2020 of the Art Market Report will soon reveal all the details of this transformation (the publication of our free report is expected in March 2021).
Artprice's Global Indices are calculated on the basis of a very specific pool of works: lots which have already been sold at public auction. This method of calculation (the repeat-sales method) is considered particularly robust, but it excludes all lots that appear in an auction sale for the first time.
Among the highest value increases recorded in 2020, Artprice was particularly interested in Banksy's the performance. His acrylic on canvas Weston Super Mare (1999) was acquired for $16,700 in 2006 at Sotheby's in London and was resold for $978,000 in October 2020 at Bonhams in London. The gain corresponds to an annual return on investment of 34% over 14 years.
Inversely, a small canvas by Raqib Shaw Untitled (2004) was acquired for $91,000 in 2008 at Sotheby's New York, but sold for just $8,750 in 2020 at Wright in Chicago.
Between its last two appearances at auction, Joan Mitchell's diptych La Grande Vallée VII (1983) multiplied in value 44 times, from $330,000 in 1989 to $14.5 million in 2020. Joan Mitchell was in fact the most successful female artist at auction in 2020, but her prices didn't just soar last year. Taking into account all of her works sold and resold at auction over the years, Artprice estimates that her prices rose 15% over the last twelve months. This increase is added to the over 2000% value accretion calculated by Artprice using the same method between 2000 and 2019 for all of Mitchell's work.