March 2018: Which Artists are leading the market?


Who are the artists which led the market in the first three months of 2018? We analyzed the 2018 auctions (print auctions excluded) for Contemporary & Impressionist/Modern Art and added the numbers together for you.


It won't come as a surprise that after his stellar performance at the London February Auctions, Picasso clearly leads the market - followed by market heavyweights and longtime market makers Warhol and Richter.


But who are the other artists which made the February / March Auctions such a success? Take a look at our charts below:

Of course, auction results only make half of the market of an artist. The other half are the sales at galleries and with secondary market dealers. As this part of the market is traditionally an opaque one, there is no reliable data available. But it is possible to gather together some estimated numbers from gallery shows. 


Of the top artists at auction, quite a few had/have very successful gallery shows in 2018: Stingel at Gagosian New York, Bradford at Hauser & Wirth L.A. and Hong Kong, Condo with Skarstedt and Sprüth Magers in Hong Kong, Condo/Picasso with Sotheby's in Hong Kong, Hirst with Gagosian Bevery Hills. Presumably there were also significant  sales of Picasso, Stingel, Condo at TEFAF - but we don't know these numbers for sure. 


We tried to calculate some estimated totals the galleries/Sotheby's  made/make from these shows (galleries, please contact me and correct me if I am wrong - happy to adjust!). This reasonably changes the picture who are the market makers so far in 2018: nobody can touch Picasso, but now Stingel and Bradford come in second and fourth place, Condo is number eight, and Hirst  is number 10 - while his market is still not quite back at auction, he just had a sold-out show with Gagosian in Beverly Hills.

p.s. as some questions came up about why we mentioned the number of lots in the analysis, here is the explanation:


The numbers in the blue blocks tell you the total volume of sales at auction the artist in question had so far in 2018. The numbers in the orange blocks tell you how many lots the artist in question had in auctions in 2018 (only lots over $100,000 were counted).


What does this say? The number of lots actually tells you a few things in relation to the total volume of sales


First, of course it gives you a hint about the average price level of that artist at auction. Condo and Bacon both had a sales total of $14.2million - but Bacon reached this number with just one lot, while Condo had 14 lots at auction which then accumulated to a total of $14.2million.


Second, it also gives you an idea about the market density of that artist and if this is a market in transition, where something is happening or about to happen. Take Condo again: there where a lot of Condo works in the sales in 2018. Why: because he is one of the hottest artists right now and everybody is betting on his market to heat up even more.


Third, it also shows you how much volume that market currently has and if it is able to supply the market. You see in the case of Bacon that there is not much supply of lots coming into the market, while Richter and Warhol always make for a constant supply of works (in 2018, no top works so far, but this is normal for this time of the year. The high prices will come in May in NY).


Fourth, it shows you what price level of works by the artist have been at auction. Take Richter and Warhol again: while the high total volume of sales in the Picasso market was reached with the help of two top lots in the $50million region, Warhol and Richter didn’t reach their top market levels as in these sales, no top works by the artists were auctioned.



In general, this report of course only analyses a part of the market which is visible to the public, and only a moment in time. The picture will look different after Art Basel Hong Kong and after the May Auctions in New York. We will keep updating these charts for you.