Global art sales hit an all time high in 2014 - with art work worth $ 15.2 billion changing hands in art auctions around the world. Take a moment to appreciate that figure - $ 15.2 billion!
This figure exceeds the previous year’s number by over 25%, and is more than 4 times the figures that were achieved a decade ago. The number of art pieces that recorded a sale price of $ 1 million or more also increased four-fold over the decade - to 1,679.
The more valuable pieces - that sold for $ 10 million or more - grew at a still higher rate compared to 10 years back - from 18 to 125. That is a 7-fold increase.
Artprice, a data firm that released these figures, attributed this healthy growth to an unprecedented increase in number of museums that compete for these pieces. A firm official revealed that between 2000 and 2005 alone, more museums were opened than in the entire 200 years preceding that! And a credible museum will need anything between 3,000 to 4,000 artworks of high quality.
China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong) claimed the market leader status with $ 5.6 billion, followed by USA at $ 4.8 billion. UK secured the third spot with $ 2.8 billion.
The most expensive artwork sold in 2014 was Black Fire for $ 84 million. This piece is a 1961 abstract expressionist work by Barnett Newman.
Also in 2014, a single Christie auction in May netted a total of $ 745 million.
Which way the things are headed in 2015? By early February this year, Nafea Faa Ipoipo (roughly translated as “When Will You Marry?”), a post-impressionist work by Gauguin depicting two Tahitian women, has secured a price tag of $ 300 million. This will make it the the most expensive single piece of art - ever.
Artprice points out that there are enough buyers and few enough art pieces that we will soon see the $ 1 billion tag achieved.