5 Takeaways From The Spring Art Market

Data collected from the artnet Price Database offers insight into the current state of the art market. In April, the most expensive piece of jewelry of all time was sold, and a prominent contemporary Chinese/French painter was the month’s top-selling artist.

  1. Hong Kong, New York, and London continue to generate the highest total auction sales. According to data from the artnet Price Database, all three locations have also shown an average decline of 15 percent in sell-through rates. New York has offered the most lots over the past three years, but has shown a decline in sell-through rates this year, dropping from 88 percent in 2016 to 61 percent in 2017.
  2. Poly Auction Hong Kong sold the most expensive fine art lot of the month on April 3, during the Glossiness of Uncarved Jade” sale, a single-artist auction of work by Cui Ruzhuo. The 17-foot-wide ink drawing, titled Misty Autumn in the Drizzling Rain, sold for HK$141.6 million ($18.2 million). Poly Auction Hong Kong also holds the artist record for Cui, set in April 2016 ($39.6 million).
  3. The most expensive decorative art lot sold was a pink diamond ring auctioned by Sotheby’s Hong Kong at “The Pink Star: One of the World’s Great Natural Treasures” on April 4. The single-lot sale set an auction record for jewelry. International jeweler Chow Tai Fook won the ring for HK$553 million ($71 million) via telephone bid.
  4. Zao Wou-ki reigned in April with the highest total sales. Paintings and original prints were auctioned by Phillips New York, Bruun Rasmussen, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, and others for a total of $23.9 million.
  5. Artnet added 15,490 new artists last month to their database. Among them was Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall, recognized as one of the pioneers of contemporary African art, but has rarely been seen at auction. On April 20, Piasa sold his vibrant tapestry, Semeuse d’étoiles, for €20,800 ($22,375).
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