Chinese Artist Leaps Into Top Three Artists at Auction List For 2009
1. Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso is back on top, after giving up the #1 position in 2008. And, it took only $121 million in auction sales to get him there. From 1998 to 2008, total sales for Picasso gained 96 percent, before falling by 54 percent last year, with pricing off 15 percent. The number of sales pushing past the $1 million mark declined precipitously, from 39 in 2008 to only 15 last year, and his top sale was for "Mousquetaire a la pipe," which moved for $13 million on May 6, 2009, at Christie's. This year could be a bit tough for Picasso collectors, as Artprice believes certain paintings were still overpriced.
Despite seeing annual sales plunge 55 percent and an unsold rate of 33 percent, Andy Warhol remained in the top three – thanks to $106 million generated at auction. In 2007, a much different time for the art market, Warhol took the #1 position, and he entered 2008 with a price gain of 585 percent over the previous 10 years. Of course, the art slump changed everything, though Warhol collectors still had reason to celebrate. Thirteen sales crossed the $1 million mark, the best for a post-war artist last year, though stil well below the 43 that attained the same result in 2008. The year ended on a high note, with "200 One Dollar Bills" selling for $39 million, the second best auction result ever achieved by a Warhol.
3. Qi Baishi
The rise of Baishi Qi is indicative of the increasing influence of Asia over the global art market. Looking back on 2009, we'll probably conclude that Asian collectors made the first step in taking us out of the art recession (with the Hong Kong auctions of October and November), and they were spending money on Asian art. And, according to Artprice, "Qi Baishi's ascension has been strictly a Chinese story," with no involvement from the western auction houses. Qi has shown that you don't need the traditional art establishment to become one of the best selling artists in the world. Unlike every other top 10 artist at auction in 2009, Qi was the only one to show an increase in total sales from 2008 to 2009 ... and it came at an astounding 73 percent. And, Qi is poised to move in 2010.