Sales of art and antiques increased 8 percent from a year earlier to 47.4 billion euros ($65.9 billion), according to a report compiled by Arts Economics and published today by the European Fine Art Foundation in Maastricht, Netherlands. The results fell just short of the record 48 billion euros in 2007.
The value of postwar and contemporary art transactions increased by 11 percent from 2012, reaching its highest-ever auction sales total of 4.9 billion euros as records were established for artists such as Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Boosted by a 25 percent increase in sales, the U.S. confirmed its position as the international art market leader, representing 38 percent of the market by volume, a 5 percentage point increase from 2012, according to the report.
The recent rally marks a rebound from 2009, when global art sales had contracted to 28.3 billion euros. With asset prices rising worldwide since then, a growing number of millionaires and billionaires worldwide has been buying art, according to the report. There were 32 million millionaires globally last year, of which 42 percent were based in the U.S. At least 600,000 of the global group are mid-to-high level art collectors, the findings show.
“Most high priced works in postwar and contemporary art are being sold in New York, both at auctions and in dealer sales,” Clare McAndrew, a cultural economist who compiled the report, said in a telephone interview. “It’s not just the U.S. buyers. People from Latin America and Asia are buying in New York.”
Some of the “persistent problems” plaguing the Chinese art market include late and non-payment by winning bidders at auction, according to the report. A high percentage of unsold auction lots -- 54 percent of all lots offered in mainland China and 44 percent in Hong Kong -- has also dampened the market, indicating resistance to works buyers perceive as “over-priced or not the best examples by the artists,” as well as issues of provenance and authenticity, according to the report.
Online sales, a small but rapidly growing segment of the market, generated more than 2.5 billion euros in 2013, the report showed.
“It is estimated that the online art market, including online sales by auction houses, dealers and online-only companies, could grow at a rate of at least 25 percent per annum, meaning that they could exceed 10 billion euros by 2020,” the report found.
“After recovering strongly in 2010, the global art market has experienced mixed performance within different sectors and between nations,” says Dr McAndrew in the report. “The much more moderate growth in sales over the last three years reflects the fact that different areas of the market have been recovering at different rates. Some sectors and individual businesses have reached peaks well in excess of those achieved in 2007, while others are still struggling to regain momentum.”
“The global art market as a whole is less susceptible to major contractions,” McAndrew said. “It’s more diversified. Since the downturn, it’s been up and down for different sectors and different countries.”
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Splitting hares: a Dürer double billTwo versions of leporine painting go on show in Vienna and BremenBy Martin Bailey. Web onlyPublished online: 13 March 2014
Two versions of Dürer’s Hare are emerging, quite by chance, at the same moment—although only one is the real thing. For over four centuries, two watercolours have shared the limelight, each regarded as an original by Dürer at different times.The version now accepted as authentic, which is rarely shown for conservation reasons, goes on display at the Albertina in Vienna on 14 March. It will be in an exhibition on the history of the gallery (until 29 June). Another watercolour, now regarded as a later copy by Hans Hoffmann, is being offered for sale by the Bremen-based Neuse Galerie for around €1m.
Right from the start, Dürer’s Hare, 1502, was the stuff of legend. One source claimed that the artist had saved the animal during a flood, another that he had modelled his drawing on a cat. A more likely story relates to Dürer’s meeting with Giovanni Bellini in Venice, when the Italian master asked to see the special brush he had used to paint the fine detail of the animal. Dürer offered Bellini several quite ordinary brushes asking him to take his pick; it was Dürer’s skill, not equipment, which accounted for his success.
After Dürer’s death, his original watercolour passed to a Nüremberg family before being acquired by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in 1588. It remained in the imperial collection and is now at the Albertina.
Hoffmann’s copy, dating from 1582, was once regarded as an original by Dürer. The watercolour was only downgraded and firmly reattributed to Hoffmann in 1876. It was eventually donated to the Bremen Kunsthalle, and in 1945, it was plundered after Soviet forces entered Germany. In the mid-1990s, Hoffmann’s copy turned up with a Belgian businessman, who had received it from a Russian trader. It was then put up for auction at Lempertz in Cologne in 1999, which led to a restitution claim from the Kunsthalle.
A deal was struck, and the Kunsthalle’s claim was dropped in return for half the auction proceeds. Hoffmann’s Hare sold in 2008 for €580,000, going to Galerie Neuse in Bremen. Galerie Neuse has just offered it for sale, in a full-page advertisement in the February issue of The Burlington Magazine.