The Art Market 2020

Chapter 3 Auction Sales

Chapter 3 looks at the auction sector, analyzing key trends in sales by region and value segment. It presents a comprehensive analysis of some of the principal fine art auction sectors, describing their performance in terms of sales, regional market share, and price distribution.

Key Findings

Sales at public auction of fine and decorative art and antiques (excluding auction house private sales) reached $24.2 billion in 2019, down 17% year-on-year as values decreased in the key global auction hubs. Despite the decline in public auction sales, private sales increased, including sales of over $1.8 billion at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

Global Market for Public Auction Sales 2009–2019

The three largest auction hubs – the US, China, and the UK – maintained their dominant position in 2019 with a combined share of 84%, down 4% year-on-year.

Auction Market Global Share by Value in 2019

Works selling for more than $1 million accounted for 55% of the value of fine art auction sales in less than 1% of the lots sold. The segment of works sold for over $10 million has been the key driver of growth in value since 2009; however, it was the worst performing in 2019, declining 39% in value (and with 35% fewer lots sold).

Share of Lots Sold and Total Value at Global Fine Art Auctions in 2019 by Price Bracket

Post-War and Contemporary art was the largest sector of the fine art auction market in 2019, with a share of 53% by value. Sales reached $6.1 billion, a decline of 10% year-on-year. Works created in the last 20 years accounted for 23% of the value of Post-War and Contemporary sales in 2019.

Share of Value % of Fine Art Auction Sales in 2019

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