Artists aged 30 or under at auction: 2021 vs 2024


Three years ago, just after the Covid pandemic, artworks by a whole new generation of artists suddenly became very valuable on the art market. Today, although the market is contracting, it is still continuing to honor promising young artists. Artmarket looks back at the three most notable results of 2024, comparing them to the peaks reached in 2021, at the crest of an emerging market supported by the surge in NFTs.

In 2021, NFTs works by Fewocious and Justin Aversano attracted a lot of interest and plenty of demand. But over the first five months of 2024, none of their tokens found buyers on the auction market. In 2021, Fewocious, then only 18, sold a work for $2.8 million at Sotheby’s in London, becoming a key figure in the crypto-art world. His fan community had developed around his sales on SuperRare and Nifty Gateway.

For his part, the young American artist and entrepreneur Justin Aversano also experienced a meteoric rise in 2021. He collaborated with the NFT project CryptoPunks and launched Quantum, an NFT platform based on Ethereum. His work Twin Flames n°83 sold as an NFT and a physical print at Christie’s for $1.1 million. In 2022, he launched a series of 365 NFT paintings, instantly selling for 1 ETH each (around $1,600 at the time), then offering collectors the opportunity to exchange their NFTs for the physical versions during an exhibition in New York. However, the enthusiasm seems to have dwindled… at least, on the public auction market.

2021 – Top 3 auction result for artists aged under 30

$2.8 million: FEWOCIOUS, Nice to meet you (2021). Sotheby’s London, 15 Oct. 2021

$1.6 million: Jadé FADOJUTIMI, Myths of Pleasure (2017). Phillips London, 15 Oct. 2021

$1.1 million: Justin AVERSANO, Twin Flames… (2017-2018). Christie’s New York, 6 Oct. 2021

In 2024 the best auction results for this generation of artists are significantly lower than the eye-watering records of 2021. While the best result in 2021 was $2.8 million for a work by Fewocious, this year the best result is $381,000 for a work by Michaela Yearwood-Dan (see our article Michaela Yearwood-Dan: a new star is born).

Another example is Anna Weyant, whose recent result of $378,000 is substantially below her previous results including three 7-digit bids. First seen on the auction market in 2021, Weyant joined Larry Gagosian’s prestigious international gallery the following year. Her prices soared even before the opening of her first New York exhibition hosted by the famous art dealer. At the time, demand was so high that each of her works, from small formats to large canvases, from portraits to still lifes, sold well beyond estimates. In 2022, she had become the 205th top-performing artist on the global auction market, all artistic periods and categories combined. This year, despite a considerable contraction of the offer, buyers have been much more selective: her The Tale of the Tub (2019) sold at Sotheby’s for just $50,800 (60% below its high estimate) in March, but her Riverside Drive almost doubled its high estimate in a Christie’s live auction that ended on 14 March.

2024 – Top 3 auction result for artists aged under 30

$381,000: Michaela YEARWOOD-DAN, Freedom don’t come for free (2021). Phillips, New York, 14 May 2024

$378,000: Anna WEYANTRiverside Drive (2020). Christie’s New York, 13 March 2024

$259,500: Raghav BABBARListener (2021). Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 06 April 2024

In August 2022, a painting by Raghav Babbar fetched 11 times its high estimate at Sotheby’s Singapore in a sale that elicited considerable energy and enthusiasm and relaunched Sotheby’s Singapore activity after several years of hiatus. His Memory is a permanent luxury sold for $316,400 against a high estimate of $28,700 and, since then, the enthusiasm for this 25-year-old Indian artist – born in Singapore and based in London – has not waned. In March of the following year, Babbars’ The Coal Seller (2020/21) fetched $733,000, twenty times its high estimate and a new record for the artist at Sotheby’s, placing the artist among ten top-selling Contemporary Indian artists. This year, his best result so far is $259,500, ten times its low estimate at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April. To attract bidders and drive up prices, auction houses sometimes give estimates well below the expected performance, a strategy that is still working well.