Roy Lichtenstein, the renowned Godfather of Pop, recognised for his distinctive use of Ben-Day dots to recreate the vibrant world of comic books, remains a focal point of our analysis. In this updated report, we revisit Lichtenstein’s art market performance over the past five years to explore his ongoing momentum in the first half of 2023.
Download our complete The American Pop Prints Report, which explores the prints and multiples performance of various artists over the past five years leading up to the May Marquee sales of 2023 Quarter 2.
Our value index blends public auction data and private sales data from our collectors network. Our market value index uses artwork & artist data and a Repeat-Sales Regression (RSR) approach. Using the sale price of individual prints to estimate the fluctuations in the value of an average representative print over a unique period of time.
Our algorithm tracks over 48,500 auction histories & our own private sales data across 3,500 artworks spanning 30 years, including signed, unsigned, APs, PPs, TPs and sets of prints & editions.
We use several metrics when comparing artists:
From a quarterly perspective, Quarter 2 and Quarter 4 consistently showcase robust performances throughout the five-year period, yielding impressive, comprehensive turnover YoY. However, Quarter 2 of 2022 stands out with a total sales turnover of 1.8 million (£GBP), marking a significant -77% deviation from the current standing in 2023. While the upcoming June auction sales will impact Quarter 2’s performance in 2023, surpassing the previous year's results without a seven-figure sale seems unlikely.
One intriguing aspect of Lichtenstein’s print market is the consistent strength in transaction volume, which does not always align with the highest ASPs. However, despite the presence of negative fluctuations, Lichtenstein’s market demonstrates a pattern of YoY corrections. Notably, his ASP rebounded by 78% in 2019 and an impressive 166% in 2021, a year boasting the second-highest transaction volume throughout the five-year period. High ASPs in correlation to large transaction volume indicate robust activity of demand and supply. Furthermore, this correlation demonstrates that the artworks sold in that year commanded significant financial value. Nonetheless, Lichtenstein’s enduring appeal and marketability remain evident. The average selling price CAGR of his market calculate to 4.51%.
Although the average selling price CAGR figure may seem comparatively lower than that of other American Pop Artists that we’ve reviewed, it still represents a significant growth rate that would yield a positive return over the five-year period.
Recent auctions in May 2023 have showcased Lichtenstein’s endless capacity to achieve noteworthy seven-figure sales for his paintings. A prime example is the successful auction of Water Lily Pond With Reflections (1992) at Sotheby’s, surpassing its high pre-sale estimate. While it is premature to predict the exact trajectory of Lichtenstein’s market performance for the remainder of the 2023 auction year, the high YoY transaction volume over the five-year period suggests that a significant sale could occur in the remaining quarters—notably, Quarter 4, which has consistently yielded the highest overall turnover from a comprehensive quarterly perspective.
Lichtenstein currently captures media attention for both commendable and controversial reasons. A recently released documentary titled ”WHAAM! BLAAM!’’ boldly explores Lichtenstein's art of appropriation, a subject that has long sparked contentious debates in art history. Nonetheless, Lichtenstein is not the first artist to stir controversy and won't be the last.
On a more celebratory note, as we approach Lichtenstein's 100th birthday in October of this year, The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation plans to generously donate nearly 200 works to esteemed museums. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York will receive the largest portions of this significant gift, and in response, The Whitney has announced its intention to organise a retrospective exhibition of the pop artist in 2026, coinciding with the release of a U.S. Postal Service stamp featuring several of Lichtenstein's iconic artworks.
Whether positive or negative, events often have a profound impact on an artist's market and can lead to donated works eventually entering the secondary market. Lichtenstein's presence remains substantial, influential, and multifaceted, and we will closely monitor how his market responds to these developments.