Christie's held its last Frieze auction on Saturday October 5th 2019 and the Frieze art Fairs closed their doors on Sunday October 6th. From Wednesday to Saturday, Phillips, Sotheby's and Christie's hosted 8 separate Contemporary art auctions in London to complement the fairs and offered 746 artworks for sale to fine art collectors. In just four days, 612 of these artworks were sold for a value surpassing £232m. With the dust settling, now is the time to look back at the sales and review their performance in light of previous years performances.
Here are some overall key insights which can help understand the current direction of the art market:
- The number of artworks sold by Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips during Frieze week is similar to that of last year:
Combining the auction houses' Contemporary Evening Sales (CONT EVE), Contemporary Day Sales (CONT DAY), Christie's Contemporary Italian Sale (ITALIAN) and Private Collection Sale, Pi-eX calculated that 612 artworks were sold during Frieze week in 2019.
As shown in the chart above, the large majority of lots were offered in the Contemporary Day Sales (almost 70%). The remaining 30% was split between the Contemporary Evening Sales, which included the second largest number of lots (almost 20%), the Contemporary Italian Sales and the Jeremy Lancaster Private Collection.
Compared to last year, both the Contemporary Evening Sales and the Private Collection sales have seen an increase in the number of lots sold, while the Contemporary Day Sales have continued to see a reduction in the number of artworks sold.
- The total value of artworks sold declined 12% year on year from £263m in 2018 to £232m in 2019
While the number of artworks sold remained stable in 2019, the value at which the 2019 artworks were sold was lower than that of the works of 2018 which resulted in an overall lower total value of the sales. As shown in the chart above a key contributor to this result was the Italian Sale, which failed to generate as high revenue as last year (23m GBP in 2019 versus almost 36m GBP in 2018).
For a detailed analysis of the performance of the Italian Sales, consult Pi-eX October Italian Sales reports:
The Contemporary Day Sales also contributed to the lower 2019 revenue. Further information on this can be found in the Pi-eX reports on the London October Contemporary Day Sales.
The only sales that showed a better performance in 2019 were the Contemporary evening sales. To see if all three auction houses saw a better performance in their evening sales in 2019 and to understand the role that guarantees played in these results, consult Pi-eX reports on the London October Contemporary Evening Sales.