11 figures for 2011



The last page in our review of 2011 crystallises the art market’s main trends in 11 key figures.

1) 11.5 billion dollars: total global art auction revenue.
The absolute record … the total exceeded 10 billion for the first time ever, and grew 21% versus 2010. This strong growth was sustained throughout the year. After a record first semester ($6.5 billion), the second half of the year was just as exceptional ($5.1 billion, the best second semester ever recorded).

2) 34%: the 2011 global unsold rate.
The global unsold rate has been above 35% since 2008. In 2011 it dipped below this threshold to 34.8% despite a 7% increase in the number of lots offered at auctions.

3) $57.2 million: the best result of the year.
This figure was not generated by Pablo PICASSO, or Alberto GIACOMETTI, or even Andy WARHOL, but QI Baishi who scored the year’s best result with Eagle Standing on Pine Tree; Four-Character Couplet in Seal Script when it fetched $57.2m in Beijing on 22 May. Although 2011 did not see a new global record (in 2010 the global record was broken twice) it did see a large number of very high-end results.

4) 1,688: the total number of results above the million-dollar threshold.
No new global record for a single work last year, but a 33% increase in the number results above the million-dollar line. And it comes as no surprise that China posted by far the best national score with 774. Indeed, Hong Kong alone posted twice as many million-plus results as for the entire euro area!

5) 69%: the proportion of lots that sold for less than $5,000.
Over the last ten years, only two posted an “affordable works rate” below 70%: 2007 and 2008. It was therefore logical that in 2011 (which posted a number of similarities to those 2 years of strong art market growth) only 69% of the total lots sold changed hands for less than $5,000. In 2009 and 2010 the “affordable works rate” reached 74%. In 2011 the number of affordable lots did not diminish in absolute terms… it actually increased by 4.5%; but this expansion was slower than the rise in the number of high-end works offered. Asia – which accounted for – 43% of the global art market, sold 19% of its auction lots for more than $100,000.

6) 43%: Asia’s share of the global art market.
The growth of the art market in Asia has been stunning. In the spotlight since China effectively became the world’s leading art marketplace in 2010, the year 2011 confirmed not so much the migration of the art market (which is still dynamic in the West) as a new situation of global art market bi-polarity. Aside from China’s astonishing 38% growth in art auction revenue in 2011, a number of other Asian countries also posted strong growth: for example, Singapore (+22%) and Indonesia (+39%).

7) 271,795,000 dollars: the revenue total of the year’s best auction sale: Sotheby’s, Contemporary and Post-War Art sale, New York, 9 November 2011.
This is the best sale result since 2008, but had it taken place in 2007 it would only have been the third best result. The sale benefited from two new records for Clyfford STILL, and a new record for the German artist Gerhard RICHTER. Only 17% of the lots remained unsold, and 41 fetched more than a million dollars.

8) 4th: France’s position on the global market with a market share of just 4.5%.
France, third in 2006, has been in fourth place since 2007 since it was overtaken by China. In 2011 it maintained its 4th place although its market share was again eroded. Not much was done in 2011 to reverse this trend. Paris is now not only behind London and New York, but also Beijing and Hong Kong, and Shanghai (which posted growth of 21% in 2011) has reduced its lag by half and is now just $50m behind the French capital.

9) 58.5%: this is proportion of the global art market’s total revenue represented by the top “1%” of lots. In other words the most expensive “1%” of all lots sold generated 58.5% of the world’s total auction revenue in 2011. Hence, the remaining 99% of auction results generated less than half of the entire market’s revenue. Again, it is not surprising that China accounts for the largest share of this “1%” (50%) with the USA representing 23% and the UK 20%.

10) 12,400: the number of new artists’ personal auction records.
Excluding auction debuts, in 2011 more than 12,400 artists reached new auction summits including Qi Baishi ($57.2m in 2011 vs. $12.5m before 2011), Clyfford Still ($55m vs. $19m), Roy LICHTENSTEIN ($38.5m vs. $38m), Egon SCHIELE ($35m vs. $20m), Salvador DALI ($19m vs. $5m) and Gerhard Richter ($18.5m vs. $13m).

11) 18,000: we conclude this round-up the number of works offered for auction on ARTPRICE’s new online auction brokerage service (in accordance with Article 5 of Law 2011-850 of 20 July 2011) just a few days after its launch on 18 January 2012!