All eyes seem to be on the buoyant contemporary art market these days. And let’s face it: the parties are better and celebrities ever-more keen to take part. Yet, beyond the publicity machine, a quick look at the most expensive auction lots by European artists this year is enough to show that modern art is where much of the really big money is. Much of that money is flowing in from Asia and Russia, where appetite for key Impressionist and Modern works is rampant.
Alberto Giacometti lead the pack in 2014 with Chariot, which sold for $101 million in November, the second highest auction result for the artist and second-highest price paid for any sculpture at auction He’s followed by auction darling Francis Bacon, who became the most expensive artist at auction when Three Studies ofLUCIAN FREUD (1969) sold for $142.4 million in 2013. Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards fetched a relatively more modest $80.8 million in May.
Then come Édouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, and Juan Gris. One has to wait until the ninth position and Gerhard Richter to find a contemporary artist in the ranking. It also worth noting the top five prices were all achieved in New York, which, despite London’s best efforts, continues to hold tight to its title of art market epicenter.
1. Alberto Giacometti
Chariot (1951–52) sold at Sotheby’s New York on November 4, 2014, for $100,965,000.
2. Francis Bacon
Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards (in 3 parts) (1984) sold at Christie’s New York on May 13, 2014, for $80,805,000.
3. Amedeo Modigliani
Tête (1911–12) sold at Sotheby’s New York on November 4, 2014, for $70,725,000.
4. Édouard Manet
Le Printemps (1881) sold at Christie’s New York on November 5, 2014, for $65,125,000.
5. Vincent van Gogh
Nature morte, vase aux marguerites et coquelicots (1890) sold at Sotheby’s New York on November 4, 2014, for $61,765,000.
6. Juan Gris
Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux (1915) sold at Christie’s London on February 4, 2014, for $56,737,039.
7. Claude Monet
Nymphéas (1906) sold at Sotheby’s London on June 23, 2014, for $53,959,007.
8. J.M.W. Turner
Rome, from Mount Aventine (1835) sold at Sotheby’s London on December 3, 2014, for $47,609,515.
9. Gerhard Richter
Abstraktes Bild (1989) sold at Christie’s London on February 13, 2014, for $32,563,228.
10. Camille Pissarro
Le boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps (1897) sold at Sotheby’s London on February 5, 2014, for $32.1 million.