Observers of recent auctions have commented on the topping out of the Warhol market. Although $290m in Warhol’s work traded hands last month, few of the works were driven above their estimate range, especially at the very top. Artnet has provided us with data on the past 14 years of Warhol auction sales. These numbers are a strong counter-example to that impression. Warhol continues to maintain incredible currency in the market.
Pay particular attention to the second chart tracking the growth of the average price for Warhol and remember that Warhol is a major portion of the art market.
Curiously, the general public seems to be less intrigued now than a few years ago. Today in the New York Times, we learn that Google Trends shows a steady decline in Warhol searches. But the chart (below) may be a function of the public’s growing knowledge and acceptance of Warhol as a global figure.
Here the Times tries to square the data:
This might suggest that, while his work remains highly coveted among superwealthy collectors, the public is experiencing a kind of “Warhol fatigue.” Eric Shiner, the director of the Andy Warhol museum, in the artist’s native city of Pittsburgh, said that the recent auction highs continue to raise awareness about Warhol, who died in 1987, but complicate his legacy and the work of the museum, which is planning to open a satellite location in New York in 2017.
“The art market is such a mysterious organism. I will readily admit that seeing Andy achieve such high prices is somewhat exhilarating, a bit like watching your kid perform well in a sport,” Mr. Shiner said.
Mr. Shiner said that although the museum had no plans to sell any of the Warhols in its 8,000-work collection
15 Minutes of Fame (and 50 Years Later, Record Sales) (NYTimes.com)