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2020 Global Auction Art Market Report

17 Feb 2021, 08:00

The sudden outbreak of the coronavirus in 2020, the dramatic global financial market, the stock market fuse, hostile oil prices, gold, and Bitcoin soar are a once in a hundred-year encounter. At the end of 2020, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization website, the global number of confirmed cases of new COVID cases reached 80 million, including more than 1.7 million deaths. The world is undergoing significant changes in a century. The economic and political situation is complicated, and in which the art market is also facing many challenges and undetermined factors.

The global art market has changed in the past ten years. From 2011 to 2020, the global market's total turnover reached its peak in 2015, showing an upward trend in the first five years and a downward trend in the next five years. The price index has not changed much in the past ten years, all fluctuating between 1.00-1.26, indicating the overall market development has stabilized.

In 2020, the art auction industry in the global art market was deeply affected by the epidemic. International auction houses mostly postponed or canceled their plans for spring auctions. The total auction turnover for the whole year ended at 7.9 billion U.S. dollars, the lowest turnover in the past ten years, a 25% decrease from 2019. The global art market price index in 2020 will remain at 1.08, the lowest point in the past five years. There is also a downward trend in 2019.

2011-2020 Global Art Sales Volume and Price Index

The Main Distribution of Global Art Auction Sites

The top 20 auction houses in the world by total art turnover in 2020 occupy a significant market share in the art market, and their auction strength has attracted much attention. From the perspective of total art sales in 2020, Sotheby's and Christie's are still the top two auction houses with a score of more than 2 billion U.S. dollars, and their strength is far ahead of other auction houses.

Among the top 20 auction houses, global auction houses account for 20%, Asian auction houses account for 55%, and European auction houses account for 25%. Compared with 2019, this distribution pattern has not changed more. The two newly established auction houses in Asia, Holly's International and Yongle Auction, mainly operating in China, had achieved good results in both auctions in 2020, ranked among the top 20 auction houses.

Distribution of Global Art Market Share in Major Auction Cities

The total turnover of New York and London both fell by nearly 40% year-on-year, and Beijing increased by 37% year-on-year, and the total turnover rose to second place. Six major auction cities worldwide fell in New York, London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, Hangzhou, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Taipei, Vienna, and other places.

New York has been a center of world art since the middle of the 20th century, and it is also a critical global art auction market. In 2020, the New York market won 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, a 42% decrease from last year, and ranked the first in market share. Under the epidemic, the Chinese market is also the first to recover. Chinese market adjustment capabilities are not estimable, and its growth momentum is strong. The Beijing market has won 1.9 billion U.S. dollars, a 37% increase from last year, and rose from third in 2019 to second place. The London market gained 1.4 billion U.S. dollars, decreased 38% from last year, and dropped to third place. The Hong Kong market gained 1.1 billion U.S. dollars, down 14% year-on-year, and ranked fourth.

Distribution of transactions in different cities in 2019 and 2020

Changes in the Pattern of the Global Auction High-end Market, China Has Become the Focus Point

High-end artworks (above tens of millions of dollars) are the major battlefields of the world's major auction houses all year round. They also contribute significantly to turnovers. Of the more than 60 thousand works sold worldwide in 2020, 91 high-end lots were sold. Although the volume accounted for less than 0.2%, the transaction volume was nearly 2 billion, accounting for 25% of the overall transaction volume.

High-end auctions are the mainstay of various auction houses. Among them, Sotheby's auction house has sold 31, and Christie has sold 29. It is far ahead of other key auction houses that have less than ten high-end auctions.

Distribution of auction houses for high-end artworks in 2020

The 91 high-end lots sold for tens of millions of dollars and above settled in cities around the world. From a global perspective, the Asian market accounts for the highest proportion, followed by North America and Europe. From the standpoint of cities, high-priced lots are mainly distributed in the four major art trading centers in the world, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, and London. The ranking of these four major cities constantly changed in the past ten years.

In 2020, 34 lots of 10 million U.S. dollars were sold in New York, with a turnover of 810 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 42%. A total of 24 lots of 10 million U.S. dollars were sold in Beijing, with a turnover of 490 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 26 %. A total of 18 tens of millions U.S. dollars were sold in Hong Kong, with a turnover of 350 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 18%. A total of 15 tens of millions U.S. dollars were sold in London, with a turnover of 280 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 14%.

Urban distribution of high-end artworks in 2020

Looking from different art categories, modern art and impressionist's tens of millions of works are far ahead. The number of Chinese paintings, calligraphy, and post-war art of tens of millions of dollars are very similar. There were 43 modern art and impressionist tens of millions of dollars in high-end lots, with a turnover of 900 million U.S. dollars. 18 Chinese paintings and calligraphy in high-end auctions, with a turnover of 430 million dollars. 17 post-war art made a transaction of 390 million U.S. dollars. Contemporary art had eight ten-million-dollar auctions with a transaction volume of 120 million U.S. dollars. And the classical masters had over 30 million U.S. dollars auctions with a transaction volume of 47 million U.S. dollars.

Category distribution map of high-end artworks in 2020

Focusing on the Top 10 global top works, 60% of the Top 10 global artworks in 2020 will come from the New York market, and the remaining 40% will come from the Chinese market (20% each in Beijing and Hong Kong). The top 10 global art auctions in 2019 are all from New York and London, and there is no auction in the Chinese market. With the overall decline in the worldwide art market, the Chinese market's performance is strong, and collectors' purchasing power cannot be underestimated.

Top 10 Global Works in 2020
Top 10 Global Works in 2019

The Turnover of the Five Major Sectors in the Global Market has Shown a Downward Trend Compared with 2019

In the art market, we divide the stage of artistic creation into five parts: Classical art: Works by artists born before 1860 Modern art and Impressionism: Works by artists born between 1860 and 1920 Post War art: Works by artists born between 1920 and 1945 Contemporary art: Works by artists born after 1945 Chinese painting and calligraphy: Works by artists born between the Song Dynasty and 2020.

There were slight changes in the market share of the five major sectors in 2020. Modern art and Impressionism still occupy the largest market share. Post-war art comes second, and Chinese arts rank third.

The turnover of the five sectors in 2019 and 2020

In 2020, there were 5929 classical arts auctioned, a 23% decrease from last year; and the turnover was nearly 300 million U.S. dollars, a 36% decrease from last year. Among all the classical masterworks, the proportion of the first auction works reached 99.8%. Not only did the auctioned works account for a negligible proportion, but nearly 70% of them were sold at or below the estimated price. It shows that collectors favor first-time-auctioned artworks more.

The Most Expensive Classical Painting in 2020:

In 2020, the auction volume of modern art and Impressionism was nearly 30,000, an increase of 0.8% year-on-year, and the turnover was almost 2.8 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 34%. Under the epidemic, the market shares of New York and London showed a downward trend. Hong Kong resisted the market and climbed, especially in the high price range. The number of works worth tens of millions of dollars increased by 23% year-on-year.

The Most Expensive Modern Art and Impressionist Art in 2020:

In 2020, 18,000 post-war art auctions, an increase of 10% year-on-year, and a turnover of nearly $1.5 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 21%. The Hong Kong market leads the world. In 2020, the global post-war art listed top 10 Hong Kong's high-priced auctions broke the top ten monopolies in Europe and America.

The Most Expensive Post-War Art in 2020:

In 2020, the auction volume of contemporary art was 21,000, a year-on-year increase of 31%, and the turnover was nearly $1.3 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 18%. Among contemporary artists, the auction volume of artists in the 50s and 60s totaled 7967 as 54% of the total sales, and the turnover was 800 million, accounting for 63% of the total value. Whether in volume or price, artists born in the 50s and 60s are the market's backbone. They have a certain number of works and have accumulated a broad base of collectors.

The Most Expensive Contemporary Art in 2020:

In 2020, the auction volume of Chinese paintings and calligraphy was 39,000, down 52% year-on-year, and the turnover was nearly 1.9 billion U.S. dollars, down 5% year-on-year. In 2020, the turnover of sky-high works (100 million yuan) increased by 45% year-on-year. It is the hard currency of the calligraphy and painting market. Among them, 100 million works in Beijing boosted the market, accounting for more than 90% of high-priced works.

The Most Expensive Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Works in 2020:

Based on the global art market data in 2020, ArtPro selects the top 20 auction houses in the world in total art turnover in 2020 as the index. Their dominance and strength in the global art market have attracted attention and are representative and deserve continuous attention. From the perspective of auction history to transaction ranking, and to innovation breakthroughs, these 20 auction houses as the global art market's index company can fully and stably represent the overall strength and level of the art industry.

For a long time, ArtPro has focused on the global art auction market, providing users with massive data and analysis services. 2020 is the past and a prologue. In 2021, ArtPro will continue to pay attention to the global art market's changes and growth.

Source: ArtPro Author: lishuai
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