Market Watch: Market Editor Report September 2023

Banksy screenprint showing a black-and-white stencilled girl reaching for a gold heart balloon against a white background.Girl With Balloon (Gold) © Banksy 2004
Sheena Carrington

Sheena Carrington, Market Editor[email protected]

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September is a captivating month for the art market. For art enthusiasts like us, we eagerly await the fall season, where we gather summer stories and anxiously anticipate what the most exciting and final quarter of the art market has in store.

September Auction Recap

The end of September signifies the conclusion of Q3 sales. This month witnessed a bustling array of live and online auctions across Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips, and Bonhams offering an exciting array of prints and multiples and the results highlight the potential for fine art investments, particularly in prints. In our previous monthly market report, we mentioned that ArtNet reported the art market’s strength was being driven by core sales priced between $100,000 - 1,000,000 (USD). These print sales unequivocally validate that observation.

September saw a total of eight sales across Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips, and Bonhams. Although three out of the eight sales – Bonhams Prints and Multiples, Sotheby’s Banksy sale and Christie’s Contemporary Editions – performed below the presale estimates, the majority of auctions witnessed healthy sell-through rates. See the numbers below.

September 2023 auction sales figures displaying hammer total, premium total, lots sold, lots unsold, and the sell-through rate.September Sales Summary 2023 © MyArtBroker

What Sold at the September Auctions?

Banksy and David Hockney Sales

Two exclusive solo artist sales took place at Sotheby’s and Phillips, featuring Banksy and David Hockney. Sotheby's Banksy sale failed to meet its expected value, but only three out of twenty-one prints remained unsold, and all sold works exceeded their minimum estimates. Phillips' second David Hockney sale maintained a flawless 100% sell-through rate, following last year's successful debut. While solo sales are intriguing, they can potentially oversaturate the market. Sotheby's initiated its Banksy-only sales in September 2019 mirroring Phillips' success with David Hockney. Sotheby's first two Banksy-only sales achieved 100% sell-through rates, and this twelfth solo Banksy sale attained a 76% sell-through rate, slightly surpassing the previous April 2023 sale. MyArtBroker will be watching upcoming solo sales' sell-through rates closely looking for other market trends.

Read our David Hockney auction report for an more detailed look into the sales at Edition Magazine.

Record prices at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips

Andy Warhol undeniably dominated the market with an impressive offering of over 70 lots. Throughout the year, there has been a robust demand for his iconic print series like Ads and Myths, and a noticeable uptick in interest for his Cowboy And Indian prints. John Wayne (1986) set a new record at Christie’s, fetching £176,400 (with fees), while Annie Oakley (1986) achieved a new record at Sotheby’s, selling for £53,340 (with fees).

In addition, prints by Jean-Michel Basquiat, produced by his estate after his passing, were featured. They performed reasonably well at Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples sale but fell short at Phillips London Evening & Day Editions sale. MyArtBroker released our American Pop Print Report in the first half of the year, providing insights into Basquiat’s current market performance and other notable pop artists, which you can download for free.

The discussion around Banksy's market is ongoing, with speculation about a market correction. Although some of Banksy's prints in Christie’s Contemporary Edition sale didn't meet expectations, the sale included rare works such as two Choose Your Weapon prints in unique colourways. Banksy's ability to maintain control over his market is truly remarkable. Personally, I am eagerly anticipating Banksy's offerings for Q4.

Read our recent auctions reports for a more detailed look into these sales at Edition Magazine.

In Demand from MyArtBroker’s Trading Floor

David Hockney and Damien Hirst are currently generating significant interest on our trading floor, experiencing high demand. Hockney's iPad Drawings and Swimming Pool prints consistently command high prices. Although, of interest in these latest sales were the records set for his lesser-known earlier works from the 1970s, including Rain, Lilies, and Rue de Seine in the recent auctions. As we move into October, we are confident that Hockney will continue to trend on our live trading floor for similar works.

Similarly, Damien Hirst remains in high demand this September. He achieved strong sales from his Virtues series, as well as rare dot works, and butterfly works from The Souls in September auctions, all setting records at Christie’s Contemporary Editions. Hirst has been a prominent trend on our trading floor throughout the year, and we eagerly anticipate his market performance for the rest of the year.

Read our recent auction reports for a more detailed look into these sales at Edition Magazine.

Other Art Market News

Sotheby’s hosted the much-anticipated Freddie Mercury Evening Sale on September 6th. The event paid homage to the rock legend, with enthusiastic bidding resulting in a remarkable £12.2 million resulting in a white-glove sale.

Frieze Seoul kicked off its second edition in South Korea on September 6th. In a recent ArtTactic podcast, founder of Seoul Art Friend Andy St. Louis shared insights on an emerging trend at Frieze Seoul: collectors showed keen interest in artworks but adopted a leisurely approach in closing deals, emphasising the significance of personal relationships in business transactions. At MyArtBroker we couldn’t agree more as this aligns with our approach, focusing on building trust and rapport over time with our clients through private online sales.

Simultaneously, The Armory Show in New York opened from September 8th-10th, following Frieze's acquisition of the show in a $124.4 million deal in July. Considered a strategic move, this showcased Frieze's expanding influence as a powerful brand. Branding is becoming more palpable and central in the art market which extends to fairs, galleries, and artists. In our latest podcast, our Commissioning Editor Erin Argun discusses the extensive impact of branding on pop artists and their influence on merchandise with Richard Polsky.

In other news, David Zwirner faced setbacks with a lost expansion plan and a departure of a major artist, Carol Bove, to rival gallery Gagosian. Despite challenges, Zwirner remains a strong brand presence in the art world, indicating potential strategies for the fall.

Looking ahead, single-owner sales for November auctions were announced. Sotheby’s secured the Emily Fisher Landau collection, expected to fetch $400 million. Additionally, Sotheby’s will auction the collection of California patron Chara Schreyer, estimated to exceed $70 million, featuring works by Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, and more.

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