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Artprice’s 2016 Global Art Market Annual Report

[28 Feb 2017]

Artprice’s 2016 Global Art Market Annual Report: a Genuine Alternative to Financial Markets, with China in First Place

Our 16th Global Art Market Annual Report is once again the fruit of an alliance between Artprice, the world leader in Art Market information, founded and directed by thierry Ehrmann, and Artron, its powerful Chinese institutional partner, directed by Wan Jie. The result is the only truly global art market report providing reliable insight into both the Western and the Eastern art market.

After pooling all their resources to analyse the global Art Market in unprecedented detail, the report reveals the intense competition driving the market’s global growth as well as its impact and ramifications. No other organisation or team is currently capable of processing and interpreting such high quality macro- and micro-economic big data.

The Report contains Artprice’s now-famous Top-500 ranking of artists by annual auction turnover, the market’s top 100 auction results, a selection of market indices, as well as numerous detailed analyses per country, per market-hub, per creative period and per artistic medium. Its 21 chapters provide an uncompromising and unprecedented analysis of today’s global Art Market. The Report is now available for free:

  • China returned to world leader position with $4.8 billion in turnover and 91,400 lots sold
  • The USA was second with $3.5 billion and 72,500 lots sold
  • The United Kingdom came third with 17% of the global auction turnover
  • Global auction turnover totalled $12.45 billion in 2016 with 675,500 lots sold
  • The lots sold in the West increased +11% (USA +24%, UK +27%)
  • France was fourth with $579 million representing 5% of global auction turnover
  • The unsold rate remained stable in the West: 37%
  • 96% of the lots sold fetched under $50,000 worldwide
  • New York ($3.2 billion), Beijing ($2.3 billion), London ($2.1 billion) and Hong Kong ($1.15 billion)
  • The year’s best result was $81.5 million for French artist Claude Monet’s La Meule (1891)
  • The world’s top-selling artist in 2016 was Chinese artist Zhang Daqian ($355 million)
  • Total artworks offered for auction worldwide increased +8% compared with 2015 to 938,000 lots.
  • In 2016, a total of 80 works fetched auction results above the $10 million threshold, versus 160 in 2015.

Despite the deterioration in the global economy, under the combined impact of investment, speculation, passion collecting and insatiable demand for big name masterpieces from the world’s new museums, the Art Market posted healthy, consolidated transaction volumes with an 8% offer increase in the West. Although below the exceptional 2015 figure, the 2016 total for global auction turnover amounted to a very respectable $12.45 billion.

The drivers of this growth are the ease of access to Art Market information, electronic sales (97% of the market’s participants are connected to the Internet), the financialisation of the market, a growing population of ever-younger art consumers (from 500,000 in the 1950’s to 70 million in 2015), the extension of the market to the entire Asia/Pacific area and India, South Africa, the Middle East and South America.

The growth of the museum industry is also playing a crucial role. With more than 700 new museums opening every year, the museum industry has become a global economic reality in the 21st century. More museums opened between 2000 and 2014 than in the previous two centuries, and demand for museum-quality works is one of the key factors in the spectacular growth of the Art Market. The Art Market is now a mature and liquid market offering 10% to 15% annual returns on works purchased over $100,000.

In 2016, in the battle of titans between China and the USA, the global Fine Art Market consolidated in the West while China re-emerged as the market’s leading power with a massive lead of $1.3 billion over the USA. Art and the art market represent a crucial Soft Power for the United States, China and, on another scale, Qatar.

Similarly, this year’s percentage of Chinese artists in the top 500 was above 30%, clearly illustrating – in addition to the turnover figures – China’s supremacy vis-à-vis the USA, which only accounted for 15%.

Considering the macro and micro-economic data, the last 17 years have confirmed the Art Market as a refuge against economic and financial turbulence, with substantial and recurring returns.

In a context where central banks are effectively implementing negative interest rates, the Art Market has enjoyed insolent health with its Contemporary segment posting a 1,490% increase in annual turnover in 17 years and a 36% linear progression in the average value of an artwork. These figures are not just based on the market’s high end; using a minimum price threshold of $20,000, we still get significant annual returns of about 5.9%.

The global ubiquity of the Internet is now a key factor in auction house marketing strategies worldwide, with operators seeking to bolster their market shares on all continents. Of the world’s 6,300 auction houses, 97% are today present on the Internet (versus just 3% in 2005).

The Art Market is an efficient, historical and global market whose ability to withstand economic and geopolitical crises is now beyond any doubt.

© 1987-2017 thierry Ehrmann

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