Get it while it’s hot: Contemporary Art Market

While the rest of the world may be struggling, the Contemporary art market is booming and will certainly continue to as long as gems like Roy Lichtenstein’s Puzzle Portrait keep popping up. It has recently been announced that art dealer Geoffrey Diner plans to unveil this highly valuable work of art at London’s Masterpiece Fair (June 27 – July 3). Kept out of the public eye for 30 years, this painting is a collector’s dream – fresh to the market, excellent provenance, and similar to two other Lichtenstein’s in the collection at the Guggenheim and the Met  it is expected to fetch at least $10 million (estimate based on similar Lichtenstein sold at auction for $10.2 million in 2010). I expect this painting to go for much, much more in light of the astronomical prices of Contemporary art sold in the last two years; no one will forget record breaking $75 million Rothko that sold at Sotheby’s in November. Since then records continue to be broken as hammer prices soar into the millions.

Roy Lichtenstein, "Puzzle Portrait," 1978
Roy Lichtenstein, “Puzzle Portrait,” 1978

Just last month, on May 15th, Christie’s blew everyone out of the water when their Post-War & Contemporary Art evening sale set 16 new world records and totaled at a staggering $495 million with the top lot bringing over $58 million. This month hasn’t been too shabby either for both Christie’s and Sotheby’s with all sales easily totaling over a million and most reaching into the eight and nine digits. It may seem unprecedented, but Contemporary art is hot for a number of reasons. First it has a sense of freshness and youth that isn’t so apparent in something like a 17th century Dutch master still life, it goes well with mid-century modern furniture that is in fashion, and also let’s not forget the fact that many of these artists mark important turning points in both art and cultural history. In addition these works like the Lichtenstein haven’t been on the market, or at least not much since the works aren’t hundreds of years old, which makes them even more appealing. Since everyone seems to be buying now, and all great works will become accounted for, it only makes sense as the years go on these artworks will only become even more valuable and rarer to come by.

Buying Contemporary art can also be quite a gamble, some dealers and collectors may be hesitant to buy lesser known artists because the value of the work may not increase, but it could turn into an amazing investment if the artist becomes a super star, ya never know… There are definitely risks as well as rewards in this collecting category, but unlike other areas of fine art Contemporary art has room to grow as it is ever changing and continually replenished.

Now let’s take a trip down memory lane and re-visit Chrisite’s and Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auctions since February.

Top Lots = Top Dollar

February:

2-12-13: Sotheby’s / London / Contemporary Art Evening Auction / Sale Total: $113,130,257 / Top Lot: Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, $12,415,709

2-13-13 Sotheby’s / London / Contemporary Art Day Auction / Sale Total: $28,666,350 / Top Lot: Gerhard Richter, D.Z., $1,442,877

2-13-13 Christie’s / London / Post-War & Contemporary Evening Auction / Sale Total: $127,730,081 / Top Lot: Jean-Michel Basquait, Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), $14,603,459

2-13&14-13 Christie’s / London / Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction / Sale Total: $150,418,090 / Top Lot: Robert Indiana, Love, $876,137

March:

3-7-13 Sotheby’s / New York / Contemporary Art Auction / Sale Total: $12,911,564 / Top Lot: Jean-Michel Basquait, Untitled, $1,426,500

3-7-13 Sotheby’s / New York / Passion + Transmission: International Contemporary Art from the CAP Collection / Sale Total: $14,373,501 / Top Lot: Christopher Wool, Untitled, $3,666,500

April:

4-5-13 Sotheby’s / Hong Kong / Contemporary Asian Art / Sale Total: $16,751,323 / Top Lot: Fan Lijun, Series 1, No. 4, $2,246,621

4-16-13 Chrisite’s / Amsterdam / Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction / Sale Total: $6,054,488 / Top Lot: Asger Jorn, Jeux Nocturne, $474,613

4-17-13 Christie’s / London / Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction / Sale Total: $3,528,659 / Top Lot: Judit Reigl, Eclatment (Outburst), $205,230

4-22-13 Sotheby’s / Doha / Contemporary Art Auction / Sale Total: $3,535,000 / Top Lot: Donal Judd, Untitled (Bernstein 90-01), $3,525,000

May:

5-14-13 Sotheby’s / New York / Contemporary Art Evening Auction / Sale Total: $293,587,000 / Top Lot: Barnett Newman, Onement VI, $43,845,000

5-15-13 Sotheby’s / New York / Contemporary Art Day Auction / Sale Total: $83,806,875 / Top Lot: Ellsworth Kelly, Red Over Yellow, $3,973,000

5-15-13 Christie’s / New York / Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale / Sale Total: $495 Million / Top Lot: Jackson Pollock, Number 19, 1948, $58,363,750

5-16-13 Christie’s / New York / Post-War & Contemporary Art Morning Session / Sale Total: $64,364,125 / Top Lot: Wayne Theibaud, Reflected Landscape, $2,811,750

5-16-13 Christie’s / New York / Post-War & Contemporary Art Afternoon Session / Sale Total: $40,403,275 / Top Lot: El Anatusi, Another Plot, $1,179,750

5-22 & 23-13 Sotheby’s / Milan / Arte Moderna e Contemporanea / Sale Total: $8,344,039 / Top Lot: Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, $259,729

June:

6-5 & 6-13 Sotheby’s / Paris / Art Contemporain / Sale Total: $34,304,854 / Top Lot: Jean-Michel Basquait, Crown Hotel (Mona Lisa Black Background), $7,417,575

6-7-13 Sotheby’s / New York / Contemporary Art Auction / Sale Total: $2,406,568 / Top Lot: Keith Haring, Untitled, $197,000

6-25-13 Christie’s / London / Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale / Sale Total: $108,470,979 / Top Lot: Jean-Michel Basquait, Untitled (1982), $28,974,511

6-26-13 Christie’s / London / Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale / Sale Total: $27,303,847 / Top Lot: Tauba Auerbach, Untitled (2010), $780,059

6-26-13 Sotheby’s / London / Contemporary Art Evening Sale / Sale Total: $115,314,540 / Top Lot: Francis Bacon, Triptych portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne, $11,282,500

6-27-13 Sotheby’s / London / Contemporary Art Day Sale / Sale Total: $30,771,160 / Top Lot: Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986, $2,510,905

*all prices include buyer’s premium

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