The Contemporary Bounce

It’s been a gloomy couple of years for collectors interested in the Post-War and Modern sectors. Prices at auction have been down between 4% and 8% respectively. Contemporary art however has seen a significant bounce.

The Rush

Since 2000, the market share of contemporary art at auction has gone from around 2.4% to 14.9% in 2020 -a rise of over 6 times. The number of lots which fit into this category has seen a similar rise. The number of current artists who are now considered to have staked their claim in terms of historical assets has never been higher.

“The Most expensive works of our time reflect the success of Pop-Art (and it’s heirs), of historical and current American Abstract Art, of iconic « Street artists », and of Chinese and Japanese painters who entered the market with the new millennium.” –


Though figures are still being collated for 2021, it seems the pandemic didn’t affect the market- in fact, the move to digital sales may even have boosted prices- opening up markets to a more geographically diverse crowd.

Of further interest is the surprising rise of the NFT in the contemporary market. The Non-Fungable Tokens have seen new interest from entirely new groups of collectors and huge sums of money changing hands.

Pandemic Purchasing

Over the course of 2020-2021, the turnover of the contemporary market hit new highs- $2.7 Billion changed hands across 102,000 transactions. 4,926 of these sales reached new artist records.

Of particular note is the growth in interests in works by Banksy- the second most profitable artist in western markets- in the 20/21 year his works turned over $147.2 million.

New Ways Of Doing Things

The democratising of the fine art market has brought in a raft of new wealthy investors, each competing to own their piece of art history. While 90% of works sold remain in the sub $20,000 bracket, the heights are getting higher, while the troughs stay stable.

The growth of online sales has clearly changed the market- new groups of people who would previously never have considered investing in art are taking notice and shaking up the market. This can only be to the good.

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