Artprice has released its report on 2016. The French art database has crunched the numbers. In the process, they discovered that the price volume of art may be falling but the numbers of lots sold is increasing … dramatically.
The 398,000 fine art lots sold in the West represented the highest volume ever recorded, while the overall unsold rate remained stable at approximately 37% compared with 2015. The auction houses have shown a remarkable capacity to stimulate demand with an appropriately tempered supply, while maintaining the quality of the lots offered for sale. The United States and the United Kingdom posted trading volumes up +24% and +27% respectively. This supply strategy has allowed sellers to maintain transaction volumes at their highest level and stabilise prices.
Furthermore, Artprice says that 99% of the lots were sold for prices below $240k; 90% of the lots were sold for less than $15k. Those are important and impressive numbers. As long as the art market balances uneasily upon the very valuable tip of the pyramid of lots, it is vulnerable to the vagaries of few individuals. Just 4,000 of the lots traded last year are ones that have achieved great, asset-worthy value.
As the base broadens, even at lower overall values, the market comes into contact with a far greater number of buyers and sellers. That’s where true asset-like behavior begins.