NFTs are shaking up the market for contemporary art

NFTs, these “tokens” that guarantee the authenticity of digital works, have revolutionized the global art market.

NFTs, these certificates of authenticity associated with a virtual object (image, video, tweet) revolutionize the world art market, boosted by contemporary art, its “locomotive”, according to the annual report from the company Artprice published on Monday. Thanks to these NFTs, which guarantee the authenticity and uniqueness of digital works and the massive online migration of contemporary art auctions since the health crisis, these public sales reach a record $ 2.7 billion over the 2020-2021 fiscal year (+117%) .

With 102,000 contemporary works (artists born after 1945, painting, sculpture, installations, drawings, photographs, prints, videos and now NFT) sold between 30 June 2020 and 30 June 2021, contemporary art now weighs 23% of the market. of art against 3% in 2000-2001, states Artprice, the world leader in information on the art market.

With 40% of world turnover, China (mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong) is becoming the leading hub for contemporary art ahead of the US (32%) and the UK (16%). Hong Kong ranks just after New York as the leading city in the market for contemporary art and dethrones London. Paris is in fifth place. Women, who represented only 5% of the artists on all rankings, all disciplines combined, rise to 37%, they are about as much as men in photography, says Thierry Ehrmann, president of Artprice, to AFP.

“New artists appear”

With digital works in NFT representing two-thirds of the value of online sales or 2% of the global art market by 2021, according to the report, “new artists are emerging, like Beeple, starting from nothing (no galleries, no exhibitions, no auctions), which refuses to enter the classical art circle ”, analyzes Thierry Ehrmann.

In addition to an innovative concept on the Internet, which is sometimes revealed as a “speculative bubble”, the NFTs “allow really young artists to earn a living and especially those of street art, of a volatile nature”, who “impose themselves as a very strong global trend “, he adds, admitting to having revised his view on this” rare sociological phenomenon “.

From only about 150, known at world auctions in 2000, street artists have risen to 18,000 this year, the expert emphasizes. The best-known, Banksy, (which reached $ 123 million in business volume in the first half of 2021), enters the top 5 of the most successful signatures in the world in auction rooms, behind Picasso, Basquiat, Warhol and Monet, according to the report. In the contemporary art segment, it is number two after Basquiat (7% of world turnover).

Younger collectors

Unknown at public auction last year, American Mike Winkleman aka Beeple, 40, is among the most expensive artists of his lifetime, after David Hockney and Jeff Koons, since his first NFT (“Everydays: The First 5,000 days”), sold for $ 69.3 million at auction at a starting price of $ 100. Previously, Beeple escaped all radars, but had several million followers on Instagram to the point where they attracted support from auction house Christie’s. That alone accounts for 3% of the contemporary art market, according to the report.

NFTs attract “new collectors with an average age of 32, 2.0 generation, who buy art at lower prices, but as a lifestyle, art remains, in the light of all that is reproducible, the last unique gesture,” according to Thierry Ehrmann. In 2020-2021, they accumulate nine millionaire sales, three times more than photography, which has nevertheless regained its recognition, according to the report.

Another striking phenomenon: the massive arrival of African-Americans, African-British and African-American artists on the market, some of which have caused auctions to explode, such as Amoako Boafo, an African-Ghanaian who sold his canvas for $ 1.14 million. ” Baba Diop “in Hong Kong in December 2020, ten times the low estimate.

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