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The Auction Market's Phoney Crisis

Published on , by Annick Colonna-Césari

Despite the pandemic, the auction market has not collapsed, and the first quarter of 2021 even broke records: a euphoria now confirmed by the traditional May sales in New York. And a revolution is probably taking shape at the same time…

An exhibition at Drouot, in compliance with health regulations: "Collectors need... The Auction Market's Phoney Crisis

An exhibition at Drouot, in compliance with health regulations: "Collectors need to see the works before they buy, even if they subsequently bid from their sofas." Alexandre Giquello

There is talk of a crisis. But what crisis, precisely? It is true that in 2020, following the pandemic, the global business volume of auctions, estimated at $17 billion by Clare McAndrew's report , dropped 30% compared with the previous year. In France, losses ranged from 20% to 40%, depending on the auction houses, and were counterbalanced to a certain degree by private sales. In any event, 2021 got off to a roaring start. In January, Drouot recorded "the highest result for this month for ten years," i.e. €15.6 M (including buyers' premiums), compared with €5 M during the last five years. At an international level, the first quarter saw sales of "a historic number of works", according to Artprice: over 112,000, including 25,000 in the US, 18,000 in France and 15,000 in the UK, for a total of $1.6 billion, matching the average recorded over the decade preceding the health crisis (2010–2019). It is not surprising that this figure has increased by 18% since 2020, given that the first wave of the…
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