There have been so many new records set at auction this year, a complete report cannot fit in a single article. The next best way is to publish a link to the 61 records set by the prestigious Coeur d’ Alene Art Auction, considered the trendsetter in the Western United States. The momentum began with the auction of Alberto Giacommetti’s Walking Man I for $104 million at Sothebys-London in February 2010. The sale remains the highest auction price for sculpture, but a new record for art at auction was reached just three months later with the sale of Picasso’s painting “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.” New artist and category records have continued to impress the art world almost daily ever since. This May, a painting by Paul Cezanne set a new record in a private sale for $275 million.
The expression “Bad News is Good News” used to refer to the jump in advertising revenues when natural disasters spiked newspaper sales. It has taken on a different dimension as credit downgrades for United States government bonds and even worse fates for notes issued by other countries like Greece, Portugal and Italy have focused the attention of more serious investors on the art world. This has been particularly good news for the entrepreneurs who launched the Art San Diego in 2010, an ideal time to build upon the expansion of the art market. Several influential long-term trends make continued art price records for the next five years likely:
Growth in the art collector community. Over 100,000 new buyers have registered to purchase art at auction since 2009. Social media, such as Facebook and the Ovation Network, have made it much easier for them to obtain information and meet art experts
Growth in art news reporting. The relatively small size of the art collecting community (about the size of San Diego) used to limit most art market coverage to a few quarterly and annual publications. Online subscription services are more expensive — up to $400 per year. But these media have enabled serious collectors to make the best selections with up-to-date information and also made it much easier to obtain bank credits secured by art to finance future purchases.
A genuine boom in television coverage of the art and auction world. Following the launch of Antiques Roadshow in the U.S. sixteen years ago, many other programs in a similar format have followed this success story: Auction Hunters on Spike, Discovery’s “Auction Kings” , The Great Big American Auction on ABC, the 2012 launch of “Antique Warriors” plus frequent broadcasts of the original Antiques Roadshow from Great Britain.
Expansion of art fair choices. Following the success of Art San Diego in 2010, Houston introduced its own art fair and achieved over $ 6 million in sales. Art Platform LA added another fair to the busy art show schedule in Los Angeles this September, and announced plans to become an annual event. The “Affordable Art Fair” followed suit. Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Fine Art Fair has added two more fairs, for contemporary art and vintage posters and prints, in addition to organizing a separate exhibition of Native American art with the Autry Museum.