Looking back to 2022 , we reflect on a year in which the art market proved its resilience. It was a tumultuous year in many markets, but despite this, art continued to prove its strength during difficut times and achieve a solid performance. As the global economy rebounded, we saw the international art community embrace opportunities to come together with innovation and new ideas, collaborating in person once again as the art world calendar quickly filled with events and auctions. Crowds rallied to art fairs, eager to reconnect. In a sign of resurging confidence triggering pent-up demand, auction houses saw the return of billion-dollar sales weeks, with landmark sales such as the Paul Allen's Collection epitomizing the market's momentum.
With many turning cash into inflation-proof investments, art may appear to be a better safe haven than Real Estate, private equity, and even hedge funds. In only two days, $1.6 Bn in masterpieces was auctioned from the collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in the second week of November. Amid unstable economic conditions and political turmoil, Christie's auction house presided over the largest single-owner sale in history.
With the British pound sinking to an all-time low against the US dollar in October, its buying power shifted in the art market. The US dollar being at its strongest in two decades opened a golden window of opportunity for American investors and collectors to snap up their dream artwork. Compared to the previous year, sales in 2022 included a significant discount for anyone purchasing in dollars.
The publication of "The Story of Art Without Men" has shaken the art industry. Starting as an Instagram account and then a podcast, this publication by Katy Hessel is a roll-call of remarkable and overlooked female artists since 1500. Since its publication in August, this book has become a catalyst for transformation in the art market, with collectors looking back in history to discover historically neglected female artists. According to a BBC documentary, secondary market prices for work by female artists are rising 29% faster than the prices for art by men. Already, we've seen a record number of women artists represented in auctions and an increase of 12.8% in the average sale price by female artists. Available at a discounted price and increasing in value more quickly than art by men, works by female artists are a promising investment with a bright vision for equality in the future.
A hugely influential figure in his time, today he is the most powerful contemporary art brand in existence. Commanding instant recognition, his work pervades a sense of wealth, glamour, and power. Triggered by the auction record of 'Shot Sage Blue Marilyn' early this year, Warhol's market has catapulted both in the public and private sectors. This Warhol-mania boosted the average auction sale price by 132% compared to last year, making him the best-performing artist in 2022 according to Artprice.
At a time of geopolitical uncertainty, soaring inflation and falling stock prices, the art market in 2022 had an unexpected explosion fuelled by a combination of an unusual number of highly desirable works becoming available and an increase in those who can afford to buy them. "The rich have got much richer," said art market specialist Georgina Adam, pointing to Forbes' tally of more than 700 new billionaires worldwide in the past couple of years. "And if you're mega-rich, there aren't that many things you can acquire that are real trophies that nobody else can have. Art is a real trophy." Anders Petterson, ArtTactic's founder, said there was also an investment element to acquisitions by ultra-high net-worth individuals. "After the financial crisis [in 2008], we saw people wanting to put their money into tangible assets. We're seeing an element of that again now."
The other half of the equation was supply. With the auction calendar finally catching up on the marquee auction consignments, the proliferation of single-owner auctions has brought to the light masterpieces fresh to the market, attracting a strong and healthy demand.
The aggregate results for 2022 demonstrate the incredible resilience of the art market. Both the private and auction sectors posted a substantial uplift in sales, despite continued economic turmoil and political mayhem. But art has the power to unify us during difficult times, and this has felt more pertinent than ever in this year. 2023 is likely to provide a more telling year to assess the true resilience of the art market. It will also be an opportunity to fully understand the impact of macroeconomic changes in the market, as inflation and volatility gain fuller momentum, and assess how adaptable the art market is to consumer behaviours and new economic realities.