Market Watch: Market Editor Report March 2024

Sheena Carrington
written by Sheena Carrington,
Last updated15 May 2024
H9-7 Loyalty by Damien Hirst - MyArtBroker H9-7 Loyalty © Damien Hirst 2021
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

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For us in the United Kingdom, March whispers, in the context of David Hockney, of the imminent arrival of Spring, or does it? Regardless, MyArtBroker has been actively immersed in the vibrant pulse of the art market throughout the month, connecting with our valued community. Our latest endeavours include live panels, interviews, collecting surveys, and highlights from the London March auction sales. This special edition newsletter also offers an overview of the 2024 Art Basel UBS report providing you with everything you need to know.

MyArtBroker In March 2024

International Women’s Day: Inspire Inclusion

At the outset of the month, MyArtBroker honoured International Women's Day (IWD) by hosting a dynamic live panel featuring trailblazing women in Art & Tech. Esteemed panelists explored the profound impact of AI on the art landscape, highlighting its inevitable transformative power.

Women in Art & Tech: The Women Building A More Transparent & Accessible Art World and Market.

Emerging Trends in Art Collection: A GenZ Perspective

In our ventures throughout March, we also conducted a GenZ survey focused on collecting practices. What emerged was a compelling shift towards supporting emerging artists and amplifying underrepresented voices. This stands in stark contrast to the broader trend observed in the art market, which increasingly emphasises asset-driven incentives.

The Art Collectors of the Future: How Will They Buy? What GenZ Buy, Where They Buy It & Why

Continuing our investigation into collector preferences, we ventured to the Original Print Fair at the Courtauld. There, we also engaged with campus attendees, posing the question: “If you could own any artwork, what would it be?” Follow us on Instagram @MyArtBroker and subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch our latest reels.

Banksy’s Latest In North London: Tree Mural

Banksy surprised us with a new mural on Hornsey Road in North London. This fresh artwork, unveiled as the artist's first of 2024, features a stencilled figure positioned behind a leafless tree, brought to life with a vibrant green backsplash. Drawing comparisons to the NOLA drip style, which originated in New Orleans in 2008, MyArtBroker’s Joe Syer highlighted Banksy's unique technique with BBC radio. Unfortunately, the mural's existence was short-lived as it fell victim to vandalism and was subsequently covered up. This time last year Banksy unveiled Valentine’s Day Massacre in Margate and Morning Is Broken in Kent. As we eagerly anticipate Banksy's future creations in 2024, we remain vigilant and excited for what's to come.

Discover Banksy prints on the Trading Floor and explore MyArtBroker’s Banksy Art Investment Guide In 2024.

Comprehensive auction figures for March 2024. Auction Results March 2024 © MyArtBroker

The Art Market In March 2024

London March Auctions

March also marks the beginning of London's marquee sales season. While not as large as the subsequent New York sales, these events offer valuable insights into emerging trends and buyer activity. Across the primary modern and contemporary sales of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillis, these houses collectively hosted six sales in evening and day formats. Marking a slight deviation from the previous year, Sotheby’s combined The Now sale and the main Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction into a single event.

Although the dynamics varied among auction houses, a common thread was the high percentage of unsold and withdrawn works across all houses. Christie’s emerged as the top performer in the evening and day sale, achieving a combined total of £126.7 million (hammer) and was the only house to perform above the same London sales from the previous year.

During the Modern and Contemporary March London sales of 2024, the three auction houses collectively generated £243.4 million. This figure reflects a 21% decrease compared to the sales of 2023. Although the total lot count saw only a 1% decrease, there was a significant 48% increase in the number of unsold lots.

Explore our comprehensive auction reports for in-depth analyses of the standout performers in each auction sale:

  1. Sotheby’s evening & day sales
  2. Christie’s & Phillips evening sales
  3. Phillips and Christie’s day sales

Lowry Performs At Christie's

After the Modern & Contemporary auction sales, the Modern British sales commence. At Christie's Modern British and Irish Art evening sale on LS Lowry's Sunday Afternoon graced the stage and sold for an impressive £6.29 million (with fees) emerging as the star lot of the sale. This painting hadn't been seen in the public since 1967 and comes second in price to the record set by Going To The Match in 2022.



Can't find the artist you are looking for? Send us an email at [email protected]

March Print Sales

After the marquee sales, a succession of live and online print auctions unfolded, presented in both live and online formats. Kicking off the series was Christie’s Contemporary Edition sale on March 14th, marked by the remarkable success of Jean-Michel Basquiat and a total of $1.5 million (hammer) generated across 127 lots. Refer to our comprehensive auction report for the top performers.

Here are the highlights from the additional March print sales:

New Blue Chip Auction Records

David Hockney

The Church Tower and The Clock (AP): £6,144, Bonhams British.Cool

  1. Previous Record: $4,320 in June 2021

Pretty Tulips: £35,840, Bonhams British.Cool

  1. Previous Record: £31,750 in September 2023

The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011: £138,600, Christie’s Contemporary Edition: London (online)

  1. Previous Record: £107,950 in March 2023

The Yosemite Suite 17: £44,100, Christie’s Contemporary Edition: London (online)

  1. Auction debut

Andy Warhol

Mick Jagger (F. & S. II.145): £203,600, Bonhams British.Cool, London

  1. Previous Record: $151,500 in October 2021

Sandro Botticelli (Birth of Venus, 1482) (F. & S. II.318): £139,700, Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples (online), London

  1. Previous Record: $162,500 (USD) (£126,066) in October 2019

Bald Eagle (F. & S. II.296): £190,500, Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples (online), London

  1. Previous Record: £164,970 in July 2022

Rebel Without A Cause (James Dean) (F. & S. II.355): £151,200, Christie’s Prints and Multiples (online)

  1. Previous Record: $163,800 (USD) (£141,452) in October 2022

Tracey Emin

Inside Your Heart: £7,040, Bonhams British.Cool

  1. Previous Record: £6,930 in July 2021

Damien Hirst

New Beginnings (Green): £10,240, Bonhams British.Cool

  1. Previous Record: £4,032 in December 2017

3-Methylthymidine White: £21,590, Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples (online), London

  1. Previous Record: £11,250 in September 2019

For the Love of God, Wonder: £13,970, Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples (online), London

  1. Previous Record: £12,683 in August 2020

Loyalty (H9-7): £35,280, Christie’s Contemporary Edition: London (online)

  1. Matched current record

To A Stranger: £11,340, Christie’s Contemporary Edition: London (online)

  1. Previous Record: £6,250 in September 2018

Keith Haring

Pop Shop VI (complete set): $74,160, Bonhams Prints & Multiples, Los Angeles

  1. Previous Record: $69,300 (USD) (£50,381) in July 2021

Bridget Riley

Sideways: £11,430, Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples (online), London

  1. Previous Record: £10,000 in February 2023

Intervals 2: £4,788, Christie’s Contemporary Edition: London (online)

  1. Previous Record: £3,380 in July 2020

Harland Miller

Blonde But Not Forgotten: £35,280

  1. Previous Record: $27,720 (USD) (£22,113) in June 2023

The Art Basel Report

The Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report 2024: Main Take-Aways

Dr. Clare McAndrew has presented us with the eighth edition of The Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report. While we continuously monitor auction sales, trends, and buying patterns throughout the year, this report stands out as the pinnacle, providing a comprehensive overview of each sector's performance in the art market by the end of 2023. We have done the work for you in this 256-page overview, distilling its findings into key takeaways and what they mean.

Bar graph of the sales in the global art market from 2009 to 2023.Sales In The Global Art Market 2009 - 2023 © Art Basel x UBS Art Market Report 2024

Dip in Value and Rise in Volume

The main consensus of the report was that sales are down, we all knew this to be true. However, they were not as severe as anticipated. Global art trade sales slowed by 4% year-on-year to an estimated $65 billion, still performing above the pre-pandemic level in 2019 of $64.4 billion. Despite the fall on value, the volume of transactions grew in 2023, increasing to 39.4 million, up 4% from 2022.

Why did we see these changes?

In 2023, global upheavals, including conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, alongside economic factors like rising interest rates and inflation, influenced consumer behaviour, leading to a cooling in the market. Interestingly, the increase in lots sold were largely attributed to the core market sector, artworks priced between $100,000 to $1 million, also contributed to this effect. MyArtBroker consistently highlighted this trend throughout 2023, noting a slowdown in the top-tier market during our review of the Spring auctions. ArtNet's Mid-Year Intelligence report further emphasised improved performance in the $100,000 to $1 million price range. Ultimately, while one sector improved, the other cooled.

Line graph of art sales in the major art markets from 2009 through 2023. Sales In The Major Art Markets 2009 - 2023 © Art Basel x UBS Art Market Report 2024

Sales Diversification

The report analysed the $65 billion turnover of the global art market across key regions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, acting as central market hubs. It observed that all markets experienced declines in 2020 followed by recoveries in 2021. However, a divergence emerged in 2022, with a strong performance in the United States and the United Kingdom while China faced challenges. This disparity stemmed from China's slower recovery from pandemic-related restrictions compared to other nations. Yet, in 2023, the situation reversed, with the United Kingdom and the United States experiencing slowdowns while China surged ahead. China emerged from lockdown with the same vigor and enthusiasm that the United States and the United Kingdom had shown in 2022, effectively placing China a year behind in terms of inventory postponed for auction sales and art fairs, as noted by McAndrew.

Why did the United States and the United Kingdom slow?

In 2023, various global events had a notable impact on the United States and the United Kingdom, owing to their NATO involvement and support for Ukraine. Meanwhile, China's position remained somewhat uncertain. Both In addition to geopolitical unrest, the aftermath of Brexit continued to pose challenges in the United Kingdom, leading to difficulties and higher taxation in the import and export of artworks. This directly affected art fairs, notably favouring Paris+ as buyers were divided between Frieze's London flagship and the burgeoning momentum in France. However, the United States and the United Kingdom remain crucial transaction centres. As highlighted in the UBS report, this duality proved complex in 2023. While these market-centric countries serve as key transactional hubs, a slowdown in the high-end market affected overall performance in these regions.

Bar graph of the online art market sales from 2013 - 2023. The Online Art Market 2013 - 2023 © Art Basel x UBS Art Market Report 2024

Auction Sales, Dealer Sales and Online Sales

The report also looks at sales methodologies. Overall, auction sales experienced a 7% decrease, paralleled by a 3% decline in dealer sales. McAndrew attributes both trends to a reduction in high-end transactions, accompanied by more cautious buyer behaviour stemming from risk aversion and uncertainty. Consequently, buyers gravitated towards the middle sector of the market, considered its core.

McAndrew acknowledges the pandemic-induced shift towards online sales, which became more pronounced in 2021/2022. Although live sales regained prominence during this period, online sales remained a fixture, as evidenced by their sustained prevalence in 2023. Overall, online sales witnessed a 7-8% increase, primarily through digital platforms but also attributed to auction sales transitioning online. These figures are more than double those of 2019 or any preceding year.

Why was there a shift towards online sales and digital platforms?

The report highlights a price gap between artworks sold online versus in live events, with online pieces generally more affordable. This trend correlates with the rise in the volume of sales seen in 2023 and is associated with declines in auction and dealer sales, along with a softening of the top tier market. While this is understandable, it's important to highlight numerous market reports in 2023 emphasising the increasing impact of online purchasing. For instance, The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report emphasised the importance of pricing transparency and accurate valuations, attracting new participants to the market. These transparent valuations are made possible by online brokers and their advanced AI-valuation tools. Similarly, the Deloitte Art & Finance Report found that 95% of young collectors prioritise access to comprehensive art market information and research. This younger demographic is deeply interested in art investment and seeks greater confidence and security in their investment decisions. As a result, the rise in online sales can also be attributed to the demand for transparency, a demand that art technology platforms like MyArtBroker are well-equipped to meet with their innovative tools and resources.

The decrease in dealer sales can be linked to the rising number of dealers accused of money laundering, such as the Lisa Schiff case in 2023. This also highlights the pressing need for greater transparency and accountability in the art market essentially driving more consignors and buyers to online platforms.

Double bar graph of global auction sales and private sales from 2019 to 2023. Global Auction Sales 2019 - 2023 © Art Basel x UBS Art Market Report 2024

Auction Sector is down and Private Sales are up

The report underscores a decline in the auction sector compared to the remarkable performance of 2022, notably highlighted by the success of private sales like the Paul Allen auction. Exceptional private collections, as seen in this sale, are exceedingly rare occurrences. McAndrew points out that from the Paul Allen sale, six lots fetched over $100 million each, significantly boosting activity in the upper echelons of the market. However, 2023 failed to produce a sale of similar caliber, ultimately contributing to the cooling trend observed in the $10 million+ segment highlighted in the report.

In contrast, private sales saw a modest 2% increase, a pattern often observed in uncertain markets as individuals gravitate towards private selling alternatives for stability and discretion.

Why is the auction sector down?

Throughout 2023, MyArtBroker emphasised the notable contrast between auction and private sales. The UBS report validates our observations, highlighting a preference for discreet transactions amid economic uncertainty. This shift may arise from a desire to protect buyer interests or reluctance to flaunt wealth in uncertain times.

Looking Ahead

Ultimately, the central take-away from the eight edition of The UBS Art Basel Report is the interdependence of various factors—geographical regions, buying avenues, and price distribution within the market. In 2023, where certain regions experienced a slowdown, others like China stepped up to fill the gap. Similarly, when auction sales faltered, private sales surged, and the middle segment of the market compensated for the lag in top-tier artwork sales. Buyer preferences also play a pivotal role in driving these trends. Amid concerns about the art market's resilience, numerous innovative and technological avenues are reshaping its trajectory. These advancements offer research stability, fostering a more resilient global art trade rooted in lasting market confidence rather than fleeting trends.

Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
an artwork?

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