Art Market Update – July 2021

August 3, 20213 min read
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“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)

When the only constant in our lives has become change it is easy to get lost amidst the forest of breaking stories and issues of the day competing for our attention.  In an effort to help, Athena Art Finance has created Art Finance Matters – a brief, monthly blog to help make some sense out of the sometimes confusing, often exasperating, and yet always engaging art market.  Our goal is to provide art market information that is interesting, informative, and (sometimes) inspiring. 

Auction Market Recap

As the art world takes steps to reopen, the market is beginning to show signs of significant strength across regions and across categories.

Fig. 1: May 2021 auction totals for The Big Three (Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips) were up 941.96% from last year; but, still down 22% from 2019

Auction Market Comes Roaring Back in 1H 2021 [Artnews]

Christie’s Posts Strongest London Sales Results Since 2017 [ARTnews]

Phillips Outperforms in HK and NY [Phillips]

Sotheby’s Auctions the Original Source Code for the World Wide Web – as an NFT [Sotheby’s]

Art Fairs

Heading into Labor Day – the traditional end of the summer holidays – the art fair calendar will begin to show signs of life returning in some cases to in-person events and others remaining online. 

  • Hamptons Fine Art Fair, Southampton, NY (In Person, Online)
    • September 2 – 5
  • Armory Show, NYC (In Person, Online) 
    • September 9-12
  • TEFAF Online 2021 (Online Only)
    • September 9 – 13
  • Art Basel, Basel (In Person, Online)
    • September 20–26

NFTs: It’s the Flavor of the Season

Over the past several months, NFTs (or Non-Fungible Tokens) have taken the world by storm and they seem to have entered virtually every conversation about the art market.  We do not know if NFTs are a passing fad or a new pillar of the art market (we suspect somewhere in between) – but one thing is clear: it is a fascinating topic inspiring us to engage in discussion on interesting and important issues relating to the nature of art, the concept of valuation and the very meaning of ownership. You may find this article and this clip to be of interest as you, like us, engage in thinking about what NFTs mean for the global art market.   

Museum and Gallery Exhibitions That We Recommend

If You’re Trying to Beat New York’s Summer Heat:

  • Re/Projections: Video, Film, and Performance for the Rotunda at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, through September 6
  • The Poet-Engineers at Miguel Abreu Gallery, through September 25
  • The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512–1570 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through October 11
  • Lynn Hershman Leeson: Twisted at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, through October 3
  • Social Works, curated by Antwaun Sarget, at Gagosian on W 24th Street in New York, through September 11

If You Happen to Be Spending Time in Aspen:

  • Cerith Wyn Evans: Aspen Drift at the Aspen Art Museum, through Oct 10th 

And, If You Happen to Find Yourself in Switzerland:    

  • Kara Walker at Kunstmuseum Basel, through Sept 26th

Art Market Evolutions

Our Art Market Summer Reading List Recommendations

As travel is now possible and is on many of our summer agendas, some good summer reading recommendations seem to be in order. Here is our shortlist of entertaining and enlightening books each with an art market bent:

  • Duveen: A Life in Art (2004) by Meryle Secrest 
  • Rogues’ Gallery: The Rise (and Occasional Fall) of Art Dealers, the Hidden Players in the History of Art (2017) by Phillip Hook 
  • My Name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic (2009) by Charles Saatchi

If you would like to learn more or are in need of financing, please contact Noah Kupferman at [email protected].