The market for contemporary art boosted by NFTs

NFTs are revolutionizing the global art market, boosted by contemporary art, its “locomotive”, according to Artprice’s annual report released Monday, October 4th.

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 financial year 2020-2021 (+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 art market against 3% in 2000 -2001, says Artprice, the world leader in information on the art market.

With 40% of global sales, 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.

ONE “rare sociological phenomenon”

With digital works in NFT accounting for 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, who started from nothing (no gallery, no exhibition, no auctions), who refuse to enter the classical art circuit”analyzes Mr. Ehrmann.

In addition to an innovative concept on the Internet, sometimes condemned as one “speculative bubble”, “NFTs allow really young artists to earn a living and especially those of street art, by nature fleeting”WHO “establishes itself as a very strong global trend”he adds, admitting to having revised his view on this “rare sociological phenomenon”.

From only about 150 celebrities at world auctions in 2000, street artists have grown to 18,000 this year, the expert points out. The best-known Banksy (which reached $ 123 million in sales volume in the first half of 2021) enters the top five 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).

Unknown at public auction in 2020, American Mike Winkleman (aka Beeple) is today among the most expensive artists of his lifetime, after David Hockney and Jeff Koons, since his first NFT (Weekdays: The first 5000 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, according to the report, accounts for 3% of the contemporary art market.

New collectors

NFTs attract new collectors, “with an average age of 32, the 2.0 generation, which buys art at lower prices, but as a lifestyle, art, in the light of all that is reproducible, remains the last unique gesture”, according to Mr. Ehrmann. In 2020-2021, these buyers have accumulated nine million dollars worth of contemporary art sales, three times more than photography, which has nevertheless regained its recognition, according to the report.

Another striking phenomenon: the massive influx of African-American, African-British and African artists in the market, some of which have caused auctions to explode like Amoako Boafo, a Ghanaian-American artist 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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