The leaders of the contemporary art market



Against the backdrop of the Venice Biennale, Artprice has compiled an original ranking of the contemporary artists who have generated the largest volume of turnover on a country by country basis. To this end, Artprice has identified the contemporary artist (born after 1940) who has generated the highest revenue at auction in each of the world’s principal art markets.

Contemporary artists who have generated the highest turnover at auctions by country in 2004CountryArtistTurnover (€)LotsUnited KingdomDamien HIRST(1965)16 181 024 211United StatesJeff KOONS(1955)14 878 563 27FranceRobert COMBAS(1957)698 950 183ItalyMimmo PALADINO(1948)342 700 27SpainEQUIPO CRÓNICA(1964-1981)269 600 13GermanyMarkus LÜPERTZ(1941)255 556 40AustraliaGarry SHEAD(1942)239 974 38New ZealandBill HAMMOND(1947)184 900 30SwedenCecilia EDEFALK(1954)168 365 5Hong KongCAI Guoqiang(1957)161 715 3DenmarkOlafur ELIASSON(1967)161 011 4IrlandRobert BALLAGH(1943)137 850 20South AfricaWilliam KENTRIDGE(1955)112 087 16NetherlandsHenk HELMANTEL(1945)84 000 6SwitzerlandMimmo PALADINO (1948)83 532 9

Taken as a whole, the highest ranking contemporary artist is the UK’s Damien Hirst, winner of the Turner Prize in 1995. Indeed, the leading light of the « Young British Artists » recorded EUR 19.3 million in auction sales worldwide (including 16.2 million in London alone). Underlying this extraordinary performance is a price increase of 526% over seven years as well as the highly lucrative auction of the contents of the ‘Pharmacy’ restaurant on 18 October 2003.
In the United States, the star artist accustomed to commanding high prices at auctions, Jeff Koons, has once again ranked top of the national ranking of contemporary artists. With auction revenue of EUR 14.8 million in 2004, Koons generates almost all his turnover in the USA. In light of some successful sales already seen in May (including two hitting the million dollar mark), this contemporary artist is on track to renew his leadership position in the USA in 2005.

Outside the UK and US markets, no other marketplace can acclaim a contemporary artist who has raised in excess of EUR 1 million. The closest is France’s Robert Combas with EUR 698,000. Furthermore, no fewer than 183 lots were needed to reach this figure. In Italy, the number 1 ranking artist is a big name in Italian avant-garde art, Mimmo Paladino (EUR 343,000). He also ranks well in Switzerland where nine of his works in 2004 sold for a total of EUR 83,500.