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Art market sales have truly ascended pre-pandemic numbers. Currently, there is a two-week auction in mid-progress happening in New York right now. These in-person auctions are expected to generate around $1.4 to $1.9 billion.
Within the first nine months of 2021, around $9.2 billion worth of art had been sold at auction. That is over $1.3 billion more than 2019 during the same time period. Connoisseurs attribute the current vigor to low-interest rates, which has invigorated the economy at large, along with the art market.
Many have concerns about a potential new tax plan from President Joe Biden and inflation. This encouraged consumers to park their finances into tangible assets — like art, cars, and collectibles.
The top 1% of households in the U.S. saw their wealth increase 23% between late 2019 to early 2021, according to a recent study from Oxford Economics. Households in the bottom fifth saw only a 2.5% gain.
The beginning portion of 2021 saw more profits from art than the equivalent periods in 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020. This year is currently tied with 2018 — which is magnificent since the largest single-owner sale in history was in May of that year. The last market boom seen was in 2015; which saw $9.4 billion in its first 9 months.
Art sales like Harry and Linda Macklowe’s collection recently sold for over $646 million at a New York auction. Edwin Cox’s collection went under the hammer this past Thursday. The Macklowe trove is a once-in-a-quarter-century — at least — sale, according to Artnet News.
Auction houses are no longer restricted to conducting live events set to calendar dates. This allows them the freedom to strategically organize their events on a rolling basis. Meaning they are able to move more merchandise in more places.
The number of lots sold at the beginning of 2021 is at least 22% higher than in the past seven years. Sell-through rates in every major category have mounted to near-decade highs. This means auctions houses have done an excellent job meeting the rise in demand and increasing the volume of material they have been selling.
It is safe to say the art market is bigger and broader than it has been in a very long time.
Written by Sheena Robertson
ArtnetNews: Just How Much Stronger Is the Art Market in 2021 Than in Years Past? We Crunched the Numbers; by Julie Halperin
CNN: Art auction fetches over $676M for high-profile divorce settlement
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