The recent auction of an Andy Warhol painting shows that more money is pouring into the art market than ever before.
Marilyn Monroe by pop artist Andy Warhol is currently the most extreme example of the art market boom. With $195 million, it achieved the highest purchase price for a work of the 20th century.
On the same day, other works from a Swiss group circulated in New York, as well as for astronomical sums: for example, an abstract work by Cy Twombly.
It was worth $21 million to the buyer. The price exceeded the estimates of Christie’s auction house by 10 to 15 million dollars.
What is happening in the art market? The numbers show that it actually recovered from the pandemic when other markets were still in a state of emergency. In 2021, sales were higher than the year before the pandemic.
$65.1 billion was raised in 2021 from the sale of artwork and antiques.
“Covid has put an incredible catalyst in motion,” Andreas Ritter says. The lawyer is the president of the Swiss Association of the Art Market. Everything suddenly became digital only. For many providers, this has led to new clients from all over the world.
“The second phenomenon, surprisingly, is that clients are also getting younger,” he says. “The art market was suffering from the fact that buyers and collectors of classics were saturated and old. With digital sales channels, new young customers are suddenly taken advantage of.”
UBS’s study of the art market also shows that buyers of artworks are getting younger. In 2020, the segment of children under 35 years of age grew by 72% and continued to grow in 2021.
Smaller, more digital – and richer: The pandemic has exacerbated wealth inequality around the world. The increase in wealth among the highest-income groups has been greater than ever. There are now more than 2,600 billionaires in the world. They like to invest their money in art.
Andreas Ritter of Kunstmarkt Schweiz asserts: “While art collectibles used to attract only a very small circle of aspiring and enthusiastic collectors, today it is much broader and the focus is on investment.”
War as another booster?
Christie’s in New York is satisfied with the sales volume from the last auction. And what does war do to the art world? That will become clear in mid-June when Art Basel opens its doors.
It may even give the market another boost. “Art is a beautiful thing to surround yourself with when the world around you is complex,” Alex Rotter of Christie’s says on the sidelines of the auction on May 9.