Contemporary Cash – The Increasing Value Of Contemporary Art

Valuing art

When it comes to valuing art, it can be a minefield to navigate. It is not an activity, nor functional but simply based on personal and collective judgement. With that in mind, the price of art can fluctuate considerably depending on the trends and perception. However, one area of art that has been continually increasing in value is contemporary art.

The rise of contemporary art

In the last 30 years, the value of contemporary art has skyrocketed by 129%. Furthermore, in just 2017 alone, contemporary art value soared by 14%. Data from global auction houses saw contemporary art, as a whole, fetched over $1.58 billion in just one year alone.

From contemporary art sales in just one year, the average price for a piece of contemporary art is $27,600, with a median price of $1,300. Despite contemporary art dividing opinions and perhaps being more challenging to value because of its complexities, contemporary art has now overtaken modern art in its power of rising value.

From transactional to transformational

With contemporary art, valuation moves beyond its transactional value to its transformational value. The transformational effect may take years to show its full extent, especially as contemporary art continues to challenge the typical standards of art evaluation and valuation.

Further qualitative studies have found that contemporary art valuation shows a correlation with the number of collections the artist exhibits, their living status, cultural success and even their notoriety. Thus, proving that contemporary art may not be purely valued on the quality of work itself but the star-quality nature of the contemporary artist.

Rising value in contemporary art

The transformational importance of contemporary art can be highlighted with Robert Longo as an example. In just one year alone, Robert Longo reached a sum of $4 million from his work. In 2015, Longo’s piece Untitled (Last Tiger) (2013) fetched $1,023,171 at Christie’s in London.

Similarly, the prevalence of Israel Lund has grown. Back in 2014, work by Lund was fetching around $7,500. Now, Lund’s work is valued at approximately $125,000. The increase valuation in Lund’s work has also been attributed to the principle of ‘flipping’. This is where individuals purchase original artwork from galleries and then sell them at auction.

Perhaps one of the stand-out examples of the rising value of contemporary art is Adrian Ghenie. Prior to an auction, The Sunflowers in 1937, was estimated to sell anywhere in the range of hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, the piece actually fetched $4.5 million in the auction.

Right place at the right time?

What is interesting to note is that rising contemporary art sales and valuations are not considered global. In fact, just four locations account for 83% of the total contemporary art auction turnover. For contemporary art to make a success at auction, New York, London, Beijing and Hong Kong are the places to go.

What’s important to note with the increasing value of contemporary art; it needs more than just the artwork itself to make a buyer splash the cash.