Top prices for 4,614 artists since the start of 2005



Prices of fine artworks continued on an exceptionally strong growth trend in the first half of 2005, and logically enough, the general increase in art prices of 4.1% also generated a sharp rise in the number of auction records.

TOP 10 artists’ auction records- 1st Half 2005
Top hammer price
Constantin BRANCUSI
USD 24 500 000:Oiseau dans l’espace (1922-1923)
04/05/2005 (Christie’s,New-York)
Edward HOPPERUSD 12 500 000:Chair Car (1965)
11/05/2005 (Christie’s,New-York)
Chaïm SOUTINEGBP 4 500 000 :Le pâtissier de Cagnes (c.1922-1923)
07/02/2005 (Christie’s,London)
Kees VAN DONGENGBP 4 500 000 :Femme au grand chapeau (1906)
20/06/2005 (Sotheby’s,London)
Francis BACONGBP 4 400 000 :«Portrait of George Dyer staring into a Mirror» (1967)
23/06/2005 (Christie’s,London)
Lucian FREUDGBP 3 700 000 :Red haired Man on a Chair (1962-1963)
09/02/2005 (Christie’s,London)
Yves TANGUYGBP 3 600 000 :Les derniers jours (1944)
07/02/2005 (Christie’s,London)
Philip GUSTONUSD 6 500 000 :«The Street» (1956)
11/05/2005 (Christie’s,New-York)
Paul SIGNACGBP 3 250 000 :Les Andelys, les laveuses (1886)
20/06/2005 (Sotheby’s,London)
Franz KLINEUSD 5 700 000 :Crow Dancer (1958)
11/05/2005 (Christie’s,New-York)

Indeed, while 3,920 artists set a new top prices in the first six months of 2004, the figure rose to 4,614 in the same period of 2005. Sixty-five of these artists sold works in excess of the EUR 1 million mark. The highest record was for a work by Constantin Brancusi whose “Bird in Space” went under the hammer at USD 24.5 million on 4 May 2005. He was followed by Edward Hopper (USD 12,500,000), Chaïm Soutine (GBP 4,500,000), Kees Van Dongen (GBP 4,500,000), Francis Bacon (GBP 4,400,000), Lucian Freud (GBP 3,700,000) and Yves Tanguy (GBP 3,600,000). Of the ten highest records of the season, six were set in London. These results prove once again that London can compete with New York in the sale of important art works.

In Italy, the highest record over the six-month period was for a work by Arturo Martini (1885-1947), “Donna che nuota sott’acqua” (1941-1942) which fetched EUR 2,020,000 at Christie’s Milan. In Hong Kong, Zao Wou-ki took the lead with a sale worth HKD 16,000,000 (USD 2,056,000). In France, a work by sculptor Gustave Miklos (1888-1967) estimated at EUR 180,000-200,000 posted an incredible result of EUR 1,400,000 at the auction house Le Mouel-Cabinet Camard. In Switzerland, the highest record was CHF 1,300,000 (USD 1,021,800) for a work by Augusto Giacometti (1877-1947). In the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, artists’ records did not break through the EUR 500,000 barrier. The best record in Northern Europe was for a piece by Isaac Lazarus Israels (1865-1934) which went under the hammer at EUR 420,000 at Christie’s Amsterdam.

Apart from the million dollar records, the market remains largely made up of artists selling works for less than USD 10,000 (88% of artworks exchange hands for less than USD 10,000). In effect, 49% of artists’ records concern works sold below USD 5,000.