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Artprice looks at five 'positive anomalies' in the 2020 art market

PARIS (PRNewswire) -- Thanks to online sales, major auction houses have found a way to continue to operate and countervail the COVID-19 health crisis. 

Lockdown forced them to activate the sudden and complete dematerialization of their most prestigious sales and corresponding catalogs.

This development – one that has been a long time coming in the art market – has allowed the bulk of secondary market fine art transactions to go ahead 'as normal', which in turn has substantially contributed to bolstering the confidence sellers need to consider consigning their works, and, a number of several quite remarkable performances have already been recorded.

Paolo UCCELLO (1397-1475). Battle on the banks of a river, probably the battle of the metaurus (207 BCE) (PRNewsfoto/

Thierry Ehrmann, President and Founder of Artprice: "Our econometrics department has identified five types of sales which illustrate the resilience of the art auction market. Each of these 'positive anomalies' must be placed in context in order to understand the indefatigable interest of buyers for these works and these artists in such difficult times".

Record turnover figure Banksy's market is showing extraordinary resilience in the face of the crisis: his works have already generated a record annual auction turnover totalling $42.8 million so far this year.

Six of his 10 best-ever auction results have been hammered in the past 10 months; and some 550 other works have changed hands in auction rooms around the world.

With the successful sale of his masterpiece Complements (2004-2007), Brice Marden has also posted a record performance at auction despite the health crisis. At 82, he is one of the top 10 most successful living artists by auction turnover.

The sudden infatuation of collectors (that began in 2019) for the work of 43-year-old American painter Eddie Martinez has continued unabated this year with 53 works already sold at auction, including five at over half a million dollars.

Demand for his work has clearly  been resistant to the health crisis in the USA and to the political and economic crises that have come in its wake.

The strongest price rise… The name of Matthew Wong burst onto the international art scene on June 30, 2020 when Sotheby's chose to start its first major New York session of the year, 100% online, with a canvas by this relatively little-known Canadian artist. 

Matthew Wong's career began in Asia in 2014, a few months after graduating from the Hong Kong School of Creative Media.

His notoriety culminated in 2019 with a solo show at Massimo de Carlo in Hong Kong (January - March 2019) and then at the Karma gallery in New York (November 2019 - January 2020).

Unfortunately the artist committed suicide a few weeks before his American exhibition.

The Realm of Appearance (2018) – an oil on canvas estimated by Sotheby's at $60,000 - $80,000 – fetched a stunning result of $1,820,000 on June 30, 2020. This remarkable record was confirmed on 7 October when Christie's sold Matthew Wong's Shangri-La (2017) for $4,470,000.

The most constant gain Acquired at Sotheby's in New York in 2011 for $10,000, Yayoi Kusama's acrylic on canvas Season Cherry (1978) resold on July 16, 2020 for $106,250 (in the same auction room).

The initial investment therefore generated +30% per year on average, over nine years...

The sharp rise in value of this painting perfectly illustrates the evolution of Yayoi Kusama's prices.

According to Artprice auction market data, $100 invested in January 2011 in paintings by the Japanese artist is worth an average of $926 today.

Note that the value of Yayoi Kusama's paintings has grown faster than that of the rest of her work over the past decade.

The rarest work... Works by the Florentine painter Paolo Uccello are extremely rare at auction. But one of the best works still in private hands was nevertheless consigned this summer after spending 62 years in the same family.

Sotheby's included the piece in the ultra-prestigious sale Rembrandt to Richter on 28 July 2020 in London.

Made in the fifteenth century in Tuscany, the painting was placed between a work on paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat and acrylic on muslin by Keith Haring, both dated from the early 1980s.

The three million dollars fetched by Uccello's Battle on the Banks of a River far exceeded the expectations of the owner, who had decided to part with this masterpiece at a particularly delicate moment on the art market.

The fastest flip... In the space of one year, Genieve Figgis's painting Ladies in the Grass (2015) has been auctioned twice.

Acquired for $18,750 in July 2019 at Christie's in New York, the work was sold for $242,000 on 11 July 2020 at Christie's in Hong Kong.

French gallery owner Almine Rech discovered Genieve Figgis through Richard Prince, who says he spotted her on Twitter.

This new form of Bad Painting, supported by two of the biggest players in the Art Market, has found equal success in Hong Kong, London and New York.

The three major capitals of the Contemporary Art Market are in direct competition for paintings by the Irish painter and rapidly escalating her prices. About Artmarket Artmarket is a global player in the Art Market with, among other structures, its Artprice department, world leader in the accumulation, management and exploitation of historical and current art market information in databanks containing over 30 million indices and auction results, covering more than 740,000 artists.

Artprice Images allows unlimited access to the largest Art Market image bank in the world: no less than 180 million digital images of photographs or engraved reproductions of artworks from 1700 to the present day, commented by our art historians.

Artmarket with its Artprice department accumulates data on a permanent basis from 6300 Auction Houses and produces key Art Market information for the main press and media agencies (7,200 publications).

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