Blame Andy Warhol for Drop in Auction Sales
Andy Warhol was the problem last year.
The top artist of 2007 fell substantially last year. In 2008, only $236.7 million in Warhol sales occurred – compared to $420 million the year before. As a result, Warhol slid from the #1 spot to #3, and Picasso regained the apex. Francis Bacon moved from #3 to #2 on sales of $256 million. Unbelievable growth of 514 percent in his work from January 2005 to January 2008 turned abruptly, and the artist finished last year down 48 percent ... not that he'd give a tinker's damn about it.
Despite the economic challenges, the price of admission grew. Last year, sales in a particular artist at auction had to reach $91.8 million to hit the big time, up from $87 million in 2007, $59.6 million in 2006 and a comparatively paltry $33.7 million in 2005.
Take a look at the scorecard after the jump.
Pablo Picasso: $262 million
Francis Bacon: $256 million
Andy Warhol: $236 million
Damien Hirst: $230 million
Claude Monet: $174 million
Alberto Giacometti: $132 million
Gerhard Richter: $122 million
Edgar Degas: $111 million
Lucio Fontana: $95 million
Yves Klein: $91 million
The mystery remains just how the hell Damien Hirst climbed into the #4 spot. In 2006, he sat in the 58th position, with auction sales of $16.8 million. He moved up to 17th in 2007, with $76 million sales, thanks in large part to Lullaby Spring (which someone is probably viewing as a regrettable purchase right now). ArtPrice's Damien Hirst index is up 1,400 percent since 1998. Last year, Hirst's September stunt – in which he bypassed the gallery network and worked directly with an auctioneer – contributed to the high tally. It didn't hurt that he unloaded 218 pieces almost immediately before the art market collapsed.