Throughout this post you will see a number of charts tracking the performance of the Contemporary art sales in London each June since the peak of the last art market cycle in June 2008. Sales did rise year over year from 2013 to 2014 but the totals did not exceed 2012 and almost match 2011 which was the strong recovery year for the art market overall. These charts do not suggest a market going straight up despite the public perception.
The first chart shows that the Evening sales make up the vast majority of the overall value of the week’s total. The year before, value in the day sale had made a surging comeback. In general, when the Evening sales make up a smaller percentage of the overall total, it suggests broader and deeper buying by collectors. The higher percentages, as in 2011 and 2012, would suggest that expenditures concentrated on fewer lots.
However, with the growing size of the Evening sales and the number of record prices established last week for artists whose works sell for less than £5m, these figures may simply reflect the promotion of more work into the evening sales.
The remaining charts breakdown the sales by Day and Evening. First, we compare the total Day and Evening sale totals across Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. Then you can see each category of sale with the house’s relative share broken out below.