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ART MARKET WATCH
June 12, 2006 

Even the most casual observer knows that the art market is booming. Now, after mining the data found in Artnet’s signature Fine Arts Auction Database, the lineaments of that boom have become surprisingly clear. On the global auction market, new auction highs were set for works by more than 1,650 artists in the month of May 2006 alone. That number is more than half of the total for all of 2005 (about 3,100 new artist records). Gee, that seems like a lot!

The auction houses somehow manage to shoehorn all kinds of different sales into those 31 days in May -- Impressionist and modern, contemporary, Latin American, American and more.

The data would seem to reflect an impressive growth in the pool of buyers as well as a stunning geographical expansion of the art market. A host of high prices were set for Chinese and other Asian artists at Christie’s Hong Kong sales, while Sotheby’s set new records in Russian art at its London salesroom. Sotheby’s London also mounted specialty sales of Irish and Greek art, which seem to have prompted new high prices in these areas as well.

Curiously, the top lot in our survey, Nu couché vu de dos (1927) by Henri Matisse, is practically the only example in the whole listing of a major painting from an Impressionist and modern sale. (Actually, works by Camille Claudel and Barbara Hepworth -- two women artists, as it happens -- also broke the $1 million glass ceiling in the Impressionist and modern category in May.) But the point is, when the auction houses note that contemporary art is giving Impressionist and modern art a run for its money, they’re not kidding.

We’d like to give you the entire list of 1,650 artists, but that would be just too much. So we’ve broken out the data in two sections. The first features all the lots that set a new artist’s record above the $1-million level. That’s 45 artists in all, including several from the American paintings category, which is also seeing dramatic growth in the current market. The records are listed in descending order, from most to least.

Particularly interesting from our point of view is the heat being given off by our senior contemporary masters (Robert Ryman, David Hockney, Brice Marden, John Chamberlain) and their younger colleagues (Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Christopher Wool, Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Peter Doig, Lisa Yuskavage).

The second section of our list consists exclusively of new records in the six-figure range (also set at auctions during May 2006). We confess, however, that we’ve whittled this list down to a manageable 65 names using completely arbitrary criteria. Sorry. The bias, as should be obvious, is once again contemporary, with sentimental exceptions like Grandma Moses and Harry Bertoia.

Rank

Price

Artist

Work

Venue

Sale

Date

1

$18,496,000

Henri Matisse

Nu couché vu de dos

Sotheby's
New York

Impressionist & Modern

5/3/06

2

$9,648,000

Robert Ryman

Untitled

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

5/10/06

3

$9,200,000

Norman Rockwell

Homecoming Marine

Sotheby's
New York

American Paintings

5/24/06

4

$7,632,000

Maxfield Parrish

Daybreak

Christie's
New York

American Paintings

5/25/06

5

$5,616,000

Frida Kahlo

Roots

Sotheby's
New York

Latin American Art

5/24/06

6

$4,384,000

Andrew Wyeth

South Cushing

Sotheby's
New York

American Paintings

5/24/06

7

$4,055,738

Ferdinand Hodler

Am Genfersee

Sotheby's Zürich

Swiss Art

5/31/06

8

$3,712,000

Francisco Zúñiga

Cuatro mujeres de pie

Sotheby's
New York

Latin American Art

5/24/06

9

$3,600,000

David Hockney

A Neat Lawn

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

10

$3,376,000

Damien Hirst

Away from the flock, divided

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

11

$3,335,052

Chu Teh-Chun (Zhu Dequn)

Rouge, la pluie. . .

Christie's Hong Kong

20th Century Chinese Art

5/28/06

12

$3,229,630

Ivan Aivazovsky

The Varangians. . .

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

5/31/06

13

$2,984,000

Brice Marden

Elements V

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

14

$2,704,000

Lucio Fontana

Coupure

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

15

$2,368,000

Frederick Frieseke

The Garden Pool

Christie's
New York

American Paintings

5/25/06

16

$2,256,000

Eva Hesse

An Ear in a Pond

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

17

$2,256,000

Andreas Gursky

99 Cent

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

5/10/06

18

$2,180,412

Liao Jichun

Garden

Christie's Hong Kong

20th Century Chinese Art

5/28/06

19

$2,032,000

Fernando Botero

The Musicians

Christie's
New York

Latin American Art

5/23/06

19

$2,032,000

Fernando Botero

Cuatro músicos

Sotheby's
New York

Latin American Art

5/24/06

20

$2,032,000

Maria Oakey Dewing

Rose Garden

Sotheby's
New York

American Paintings

5/24/06

21

$1,920,000

Piero Manzoni

Achrome

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

22

$1,891,753

Cui Ruzhou

Snow Mountains

Christie's Hong Kong

Modern & Contemporary Chinese Paintings

5/29/06

23

$1,819,259

James Barry

King Lear Weeping. . .

Sotheby's London

The Irish Sale

5/11/06

24

$1,808,000

Morris Louis

Floral V

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

25

$1,808,000

Thomas Hart Benton

Keith Farm, Chilmark

Sotheby's
New York

American Paintings

5/24/06

26

$1,747,423

A.J. Le Mayeur de Merprés

Terrace. . .

Christie's Hong Kong

Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art

5/28/06

27

$1,696,000

Tom Wesselmann

Bedroom Painting No.42

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

5/11/06

28

$1,696,000

Camille Claudel

L'abandon

Sotheby's
New York

Impressionist & Modern

5/4/06

29

$1,668,852

Giovanni Giacometti

Monti di Neve

Sotheby's Zürich

Swiss Art

5/31/06

30

$1,600,000

Alfred Dedreux

An African Groom. . .

Christie's London

Sporting Art

5/19/06

31

$1,570,370

Nikanor Greigor'evich Chernetsov

View of Orianda. . .

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

5/31/06

32

$1,472,000

Barbara Hepworth

Three Obliques

Sotheby's
New York

Impressionist & Modern

5/3/06

33

$1,472,000

Francis Augustus Silva

On the Hudson, Nyack

Sotheby's
New York

American Paintings

5/24/06

34

$1,466,667

Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov

Sunset on the Black Sea

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

5/31/06

35

$1,416,000

Christopher Wool

Untitled (Helter Helter)

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

5/10/06

36

$1,388,679

Nikiforos Lytras

The Naughty Grandchild

Sotheby's London

The Greek Sale

5/22/06

37

$1,360,000

Richard Prince

Untitled joke painting

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

5/9/06

38

$1,300,741

Victor Elpidiforovich Borisov-Musatov

The Last Day

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

5/31/06

39

$1,136,000

Takashi Murakami

Nirvana

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

5/11/06

40

$1,080,000

Yoshitomo Nara

Missing in Action

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

5/10/06

41

$1,080,000

Peter Doig

Olin MK IV

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

5/11/06

42

$1,072,593

Boris Izrailevich Anisfeld

Alder Grove - Tver

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

5/31/06

43

$1,051,852

Konstantin Feodorovich Yuon

Matchmakers Dance. . .

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

5/31/06

44

$1,024,000

Lisa Yuskavage

Honeymoon

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

5/10/06

45

$1,024,000

John Chamberlain

Laro

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

5/10/06

 

Rank

Price

Artist

Work

Venue

Sale

Date

48

$968,000

Mark di Suvero

Bojangles

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/10/06

49

$968,000

Cecily Brown

High Society

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/10/06

52

$912,000

Sean Scully

Wall of Light. . .

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/10/06

53

$895,876

Cai Guo Qiang

Eagles Watching. . .

Christie's Hong Kong

Asian Contemporary Art

05/28/06

55

$800,000

Blinky Palermo

Komposition. . .

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/10/06

57

$744,000

John Baldessari

Beach Scene. . .

Christie's
New York

Refco Collection

05/05/06

58

$744,000

Raymond Pettibon

Self-Portrait as Goofy-Foot

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

61

$688,000

Mike Kelley

Ahh...Youth

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

05/09/06

61

$688,000

Mike Kelley

Ahh…Youth

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

67

$598,400

Grandma Moses

The Old Oaken Bucket

Sotheby's
New York

American Paintings

05/24/06

68

$576,000

David Salle

Vagrant

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/10/06

69

$574,350

Pierre Soulages

Peinture

Tajan

Art Abstrait et Contemporain

05/17/06

70

$564,800

Elmer Nelson Bischoff

Red cliffs

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

05/10/06

71

$531,200

Elaine Sturtevant

Warhol Diptych

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

72

$531,200

Neo Rauch

Stunde

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/10/06

74

$506,186

Wang Guangyi

Rolex

Christie's Hong Kong

Asian Contemporary Art

05/28/06

75

$497,600

Dirk Skreber

Yellow Locomotive

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

05/09/06

77

$471,111

Ilya Kabakov

Where Are They?

Sotheby's London

The Russian Sale

05/31/06

79

$464,000

Christo

The Gates. . .

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

05/10/06

81

$441,600

Robert Irwin

Untitled

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

82

$441,600

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Crowd. . .

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

84

$419,588

Fang Lijun

No. 8

Christie's Hong Kong

Asian Contemporary Art

05/28/06

85

$408,000

Piotr Uklanski

Untitled (Skull)

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

88

$396,800

Barnaby Furnas

Blown To Bits

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

91

$363,200

Tomás Sánchez

Gracia en la cascada

Sotheby's
New York

Latin American Art

05/24/06

92

$363,200

Julio Ruelas

Visión de la conquista

Sotheby's
New York

Latin American Art

05/25/06

99

$332,985

Kim Dong-Yoo

Marilyn vs. Mao

Christie's Hong Kong

Asian Contemporary Art

05/28/06

100

$329,600

Wang Du

Flea Market. . .

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

103

$319,615

Salvatore Scarpitta

Elephant Trap

Sotheby's Milan

Modern & Contemporary

05/24/06

85

$307,200

Peter Blume

Winter

Christie's
New York

American Paintings

05/25/06

106

$307,200

Thomas Schütte

Maschine (4 works)

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

107

$307,200

Ugo Rondinone

If There Were. . .

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

108

$296,000

Victor Vasarely

Jong

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

05/10/06

109

$296,000

Kiki Smith

Untitled (Butterfly)

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

112

$275,258

Nam June Paik

Enlightenment 78 RPMs

Christie's Hong Kong

Asian Contemporary Art

05/28/06

114

$273,600

Karen Kilimnik

Tabitha II

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

119

$262,400

Thomas Demand

Collection

Christie's
New York

Refco Collection

05/05/06

124

$240,000

Olafur Eliasson

River Raft

Christie's
New York

Refco Collection

05/05/06

130

$221,860

Demetrios Galanis

Seated Nude

Bonhams London

The Greek Sale

05/23/06

131

$216,495

Yang Feiyun

Dreaming Season

Christie's Hong Kong

20th Century Chinese Art

05/28/06

133

$216,000

Rodolfo Morales

Dreams of a Village

Christie's
New York

Latin American Art

05/23/06

136

$204,000

Wilhelm Sasnal

Untitled (Plane and Bombs)

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

146

$192,000

Ross Bleckner

Oceans

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

150

$180,000

Harry Bertoia

Untitled (Large Bush Form)

Christie's
New York

Post War & Contemporary

05/10/06

151

$180,000

Martin Eder

Mascara (Dream Endlessly)

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

152

$180,000

Philip Pearlstein

Two Models. . .

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

156

$168,000

Rodney Graham

Welsh Oaks #3

Christie's
New York

Refco Collection

05/05/06

157

$168,000

Huang Yong Ping

The Doomsday

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

158

$163,132

Odd Nerdrum

Selvportrett med hårbånd

Blomqvist

Vårens Moderne

05/08/06

160

$156,000

Martha Rosler

Bringing the War. . .

Christie's
New York

Refco Collection

05/05/06

161

$156,000

Paul Pfeiffer

John 3:16

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

162

$156,000

George Condo

The Insane Psychiatrist

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

163

$156,000

Thomas Ruff

Nudes pea 10

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

160

$153,846

Jan Schoonhoven

R77-14

Christie's Amsterdam

20th Century Art

05/30/06

175

$144,000

Ellen Gallagher

Nightlamp

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

176

$144,000

David Schnell

Gestange II

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

177

$144,000

Tatsuo Miyajima

Time grid

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

180

$134,615

Maria Lassnig

Korkenziehermann (Tod)

im Kinsky

Zeitgenössische Kunst

05/16/06

181

$134,615

Richard Paul Lohse

Elemente. . .

Villa Grisebach

Ausgewählte Werke

05/26/06

183

$132,000

Nobuyoshi Araki

100 Works. . .

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

184

$132,000

Rudolf Stingel

Untitled (diptych)

Phillips, de Pury

Contemporary Art

05/12/06

191

$120,000

John McCracken

Glacier

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06

195

$115,979

Ma Liuming

Baby no. 7

Christie's Hong Kong

Asian Contemporary Art

05/28/06

201

$111,111

J.-N.Niepce

La jeune fille. . .

Sotheby's London

Photographs

05/16/06

210

$108,000

Kerry James Marshall

Untitled (La Venus Negra)

Christie's
New York

Post-War & Contemporary

05/10/06

215

$102,000

Carroll Dunham

Field

Sotheby's
New York

Contemporary Art

05/11/06