Introducing: The Artnet Intelligence Report, Spring 2022 Edition


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Allow us to let you in on a secret. When we began planning the fall 2021 edition of the Artnet Intelligence Report about a year ago, we asked ourselves whether we should include an article on NFTs. “Who knows if NFTs will even be relevant in a few months?” one of our team members said. “The topic is moving and changing so quickly,” another replied.

One issue and nine months later, NFTs continue to dominate the art-market conversation, to the delight of some and the consternation of others. Auction houses generated more than $200 million from the sale of these digital assets last year.

Beyond the astronomical prices, however, we’re interested in the concepts underpinning the world’s NFT obsession: how flipping is part of the culture, how ownership does not require physical possession, and how new audiences are invited into the fold. These tenets may have a more fundamental impact on the art business—for good or for ill—than any amount of money generated from NFT sales.

That’s why, in this issue, we are diving into how the art market became a planet of the apes—and not just those in possession of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, but those who want to disrupt the industry by changing the way we think about ownership. Companies like Masterworks, Particle, and Yieldstreet are using new technology to make fine art and NFT collecting accessible to audiences that were previously unable to afford it. And they’re doing it by dividing these assets up into teeny, tiny pieces.

So what happens when a Banksy becomes an NFT that is collectively owned by thousands of people? And how would the art market change if such a thing were to become commonplace?

We spoke with the founders of fractional ownership companies, their clients, and other stakeholders to find out. In this issue, we dive deep into what happens when the art market tries to become more like the stock market. We’ll also examine whether DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) can actually be of use to the art trade and, of course, offer our data-led, insight-packed breakdown of the market’s performance in 2021.

If you’ve ever wondered who would buy a hundredth of a Picasso—or suddenly have the urge to sell off a fraction of yours—this issue is for you.

– Andrew Goldstein and Julia Halperin

 

— TABLE OF CONTENTS —

– Marketplace
• How the auction market pulled off its best year ever
What fintech entrepreneur Alan Lau buys (and why)
• The top 10 lots of 2021 in every major category—explained

– First, GameStop. Next… Banksy?
by Katya Kazakina
Retail investors are buying fractions of Picassos, Banksys, and brand-name NFTs in the hope of a major payoff. Are they getting played?

– Meet the (Fractional) Art Investors
by Annie Armstrong
We checked in with three professionals—a real estate executive, a podcaster, and a corporate lawyer—who are placing bets on bite-size pieces of cultural assets.

– 5 Companies That Are All In on Fractional Ownership
by Eileen Kinsella
Want to own a work of art without paying for insurance… or actually getting to look at it? These five companies are at the vanguard of fractional art ownership.

– Do DAOs Actually Make Sense for the Art Market?
by Amy Castor
In a market as elitist, opaque, and illogical as the one for fine art, could DAOs—and the vision of collective ownership they represent—tip the scales of power?

 Data Dive
by Julia Halperin
• Have online art sales already peaked?
• Which Asian country has the fastest-growing art market?
• Who are today’s most bankable artists?

– The Triumph of Ultra-Contemporary Art
by Artnet News and Morgan Stanley
Auction sales of works by young artists have spiked 305 percent since 2019. Here’s how the desire for the new is transforming the market.

 

Click here to subscribe. Already a member? Access the full report here.

 

— KEY FINDINGS —

© Artnet Price Database and Artnet Analytics 2021.

© Artnet Price Database and Artnet Analytics 2021.

  • A grand total of $16.6 billion was spent on fine art at auction in 2021—the highest total we’ve ever recorded.
  • North America reclaimed its place as the world’s number one market for fine art, with $6.4 billion worth of fine-art auction sales to Asia’s $5.4 billion.
  • Online sales continued to grow even as in-person events resumed. The Big Three houses, along with Bonhams and Artnet’s own auction platform, together generated a record $1.5 billion online, up 35 percent year over year.
  • Korea is on the rise. The country, which will host the first edition of Frieze Seoul this fall, saw its auction sales of fine art reach an all-time high of $255.5 million last year, more than double its 2020 total.
  • Ultra-contemporary art—our term for work by artists born after 1974—is by far the fastest growing segment of the art market. Sales in the category reached $742.2 million in 2021, up 305 percent from 2019.
  • What price range is most lucrative for auction houses? The largest slice of the pie remains the one made up of fine artworks traded for between $1 million and $10 million each.
  • Sotheby’s beat out rival Christie’s in total fine-art auction sales in 2021. The former generated $4.8 billion; the latter, $4.3 billion.

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