Behind the Canvas: Your 2021 Art Market Recap

January 13, 2022

With 2022 in the works, and spring auction season approaching, let’s take a minute to recap some major sales and highlights of the global art market in 2021.

Even post-pandemic, auction houses still saw record yearly sales

  • Christies reported 7.1 billion dollars in sales for 2021.
  • Sotheby’s had recorded 7.3 billion in their 2021 sales.
  • Phillips had a record breaking year, with 1.2 billion, the most in their history.

Several notable sales stood out to amass for these numbers

  • Christie’s 20th/21st century sale had amassed a whopping total of  $639 million. Also featured, The Cox Collection, a sale featuring works from Impressionist masters totaling to $332,031,500, proved that the art market is not just saturated with new fangled contemporary art – the boomers have never been more on edge!
  • Sotheby’s major sale of the year was the first half of the Macklowe Collection, which went down as the most valuable single owned auction ever staged, with price realized total of $676 million. Divorce of the year? Move over Kanye…

There were several firsts this past year that need to be mentioned

  • Earlier in March, digital artist Beeple, broke the internet with the first purely digital art ever sold at auction. Beeple’s  NFT, The First 5000 Days sold for a price realized of $69.3 million. Yes, someone spent that much on a jpeg. You just wouldn’t get it.
  • Beeple wasn’t the only digital artist to be featured on the auction block. 75 NFT’s were offered through the course of the year. The fine art and crypto communities are taking strides for peace in the art market, and that’s beautiful.
  • This was also the first time crypto-currency was accepted as payment meaning you can cash in all the Ethereum you were gifted over Christmas this upcoming auction season!
  • Sotheby’s reported that 44% of their bidders this past year had popped their art auction cherry with being first time participants.

Finally, let’s take a look at the largest lots of the year

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