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A global and efficient market

Since 2012, an exclusive alliance between the French company Artprice and the Chinese company Artron has produced the best possible analysis of the global Art Market.

Artron is the world’s leading processor and provider of economic data and information from China. Its output makes a vital contribution to an accurate understanding of the reality of today’s global Art Market. The economic performances of China’s art market not only rival those of the US art market… they are now stronger. In 2009, China became the world’s leading nation for secondary market Fine Art sales, completely upsetting a global order that had reigned for centuries. Since then, the global Art Market has continued to transform, but more in terms of quality than quantity: it has gained maturity, speed and fluidity, thanks to better information sharing between Asia and the West, particularly between Artprice and Artron. This global Art Market report, published jointly by the two companies, makes a major contribution to the overall efficiency of the global Art Market.

A pioneer in online art market information, Artprice has built the world’s most comprehensive database in the sector. Since its creation, Artprice has become world leader and has substantially contributed to the transformation of the traditional art market by providing easy access to its key information.

In 2017, Artprice celebrated its 20th anniversary. During those 20 years, the Art Market has metamorphosed with the emergence and consolidation of the Chinese market, the deepening globalization of its networks, a major diversification of its primary sources, a huge acceleration in the speed and volume of its newsflow and a very significant enhancement in transaction fluidity. These are just some of the ongoing changes affecting the global art market. Artprice started by acquiring the Art Market’s largest and most important archives all over the planet. This strategy gave Artprice a solid data foundation dating back to 1700, thanks notably to the 7-volume Mireur (1700-1900), the Bayer database (USA), the Enrique Mayer guide (1962-1987) and the American leader Sound View Press (1991). Since its creation, Artprice has followed the global auction market in almost real time and now lists and comments future sales so that its members can anticipate the market.

Twenty years after the creation of Artprice, the only possible conclusion is that the art market  has grown beyond recognition and that its future growth is inevitable.

1998-2017:  20 years later

The proliferation of museums around the world, the growing number of collectors, the globalization of demand and the dematerialization of auctions… In 20 years, the attractiveness of Art and its market has massively expanded its consumer base.

Artprice is 20: the evolution of the Art Market between 1998 and 2017

1998 vs. 2017 Evolution
Global auction turnover $2.7 billion $14/9 billion +456%
Record price $71.5 million $450.3 million +530%
Artists 54,005 132,92 +146%
Lots sold 220,159 502,891 +128%
Lots on offer 291,205 936,027 +221%
Unsold rate 23% 46% +98%
Auction houses 690 870 +26%
Auction sales 4214 6770 +61%
Cities 510 503 -1%
Countries 34 59 +74%
Average buyer’s premium 14.5% 21% +45%
Price index 100 152 +52%
  • A global network

Between 1998 and 2017, the number of countries participating in the Art Market rose from 34 to 59, thanks notably to the international development of major auction houses. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips and Bonhams opened branches in Hong Kong; all except Phillips opened in Paris; Christie’s and Sotheby’s set up in Dubai, while Christie’s started operating in Shanghai. The French company Artcurial opened branches in Beijing and Vienna.

  • More works in circulation

The market has expanded: over the 20 years, the number of lots offered for sale have increased by 221% while lots sold have grown 128%. Meanwhile, the number of artists available on the auction market has more than doubled, partly due to the rapid growth of the Contemporary art segment. The Art Market has become efficient and now closely resembles a classic stock market with a very high level of maturity… and no HFT (High Frequency Trading).

  • Higher buyer’s fee

To cover higher structural and marketing costs, auction houses have repeatedly increased their buyer’s fees. In 20 years, these fees have increased 45% on average. For comparison, in 1998, the major auction houses applied a rate somewhere between 10% and 15%. Currently, this rate starts at 30%, reducing to 12% for the most expensive transactions.

  • A dematerialized market

In 2017, Sotheby’s decided to remove buyer’s fees on online auctions in order to boost their growth. With the development of remote access to auctions (telephone and online), the last 20 years have seen the emergence of a new way of consuming Art. Today, auctions no longer have borders. In France, several auction operators have client bases that are over 70% foreign. Remember that 91% of Artprice customers use mobile Internet. According to Dataquest, there are more smartphones in the world than human beings with 12 billion connected devices. Every year, 1.9 billion smartphones are sold (4G, 4G + and 5G).

  • Highly reactive to cultural news…

The auction houses have developed a new strategy that involves programming thematic sales to coincide with major cultural events, thereby taking advantage of the inflow of art enthusiasts. Sales dedicated to drawing are organized during drawing fairs in Paris while sales of Modern and Contemporary art now coincide with Frieze in London or Fiac in Paris. In New York, Asia Week has become one of the major cultural events involving galleries, museums and auction houses.

  • Quality…

Better informed, buyers have become more demanding. Acquisitions are carefully considered tactical moves, and the overall result is a much higher unsold rate, twice what it was 20 years ago. One indication of the highly qualitative nature of the market is the large number of artworks pre-empted by French public institutions at Parisian sales during 2017. These includes 20 at Christie’s, 99 at Artcurial and 234 at Hôtel Drouot.

  • A new value scale…

Between 1998 and 2017, total global art auction turnover rose from $2.7 billion to $14.9 billion. This exceptional growth was largely driven by transaction volumes (up 456%); however, the value scale has also considerably changed with the all-time world record for an artwork on the secondary market rising from $71 million in 1998 to $450.3 million in 2017.

  • Towards new regulations for France’s auction operators…

Many public documents show that French Art Market players, among others the Syndicat des Maisons de Ventes (SYMEV) have taken a stand: against a backdrop of art market globalisation spearheaded by the widespread adoption of internet auction sales, France’s share of the global Fine Art auction market – a share that was over 60% in the 1970s – fell back to a dangerously low level of less than 4% in 2016! Aware of this worrying reality, the sector’s professionals via the Syndicat des Maisons de Ventes (SYMEV), have been sounding the alarm over the past year… and, it would seem, they have been heard.
This news was clearly expressed at the annual meeting of auctioneers that took place at the end of 2017. The French authorities are working towards a complete overhaul of the much-contested and obsolete regulatory framework that governs public auction sales in France. The Conseil des Ventes Volontaires (CVV) –France’s auction market oversight authority– will apparently become an agency of self-regulation, closer to the realities of the market and more in tune with the digital and global issues that have transformed the sector.
At the end of November, in front of the assembled heads of France’s auction sector, Sylvain Maillard, the elected representative for the Paris constituency that is home to the famous Hôtel Drouot, and former campaign spokesman for Emmanuel Macron, clearly expressed the government’s willingness to act: “all the points you have raised have been taken very seriously by the public authorities (…) and all the possible solutions to these problems are currently being examined and explored.”
On 7 March next, the French Senate will be chairing a session entitled The attractiveness and legal competitiveness of the French art market, under the twin council of the Senate’s Law Commission and its Culture Commission. There can be no doubt that this initiative is part of a new reform dynamic that will lead to the adoption of a new legal framework as of 2018.
The removal of a major administrative impediment that is unique in Europe would indeed allow the French art market to begin the lengthy process of recovering the position it held for over a century in the global art market. End of quote.
These developments represent a major recognition for Artprice, and should lead to the resolution and satisfaction of all of Artprice’s claims & demands during a long and arduous battle.

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