At the start of the year all the reports indicated the same trend: that China had topped the art market in 2016 (see “China Once Again Leads the Art Market”). In a report written by Artprice that analyses the results of the first six months of 2017, the United States has just caught up with China again. “Never has the balance between the two been so equal, never have the two accounts been so similar in terms of volumes of transactions and turnover”, it says. For the first half of 2016, the United States represented 32.4% of the art market ($2.2 billion) and China 29% ($2 billion). The third and fourth places were taken by the United Kingdom and France.

Artprice reported a positive state of affairs for the whole of the art market. Auction sales totalled $6.9 billion in the first six months, representing a jump of 5.3% on the same period the previous year. “During the 17 [last] years, the art market saved itself from collapse during the economic crisis, establishing itself as safe refuge though without creating a speculative bubble”, said Thierry Ehrmann, founder and CEO of Artprice.

In its report, Artprice drew particular attention to the historic sale of a painting by Basquiat for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s (see “Basquiat Hits Record High at Christie’s and Sotheby’s”). “The 110.5 million dollars spent to acquire this contemporary painting represent an important development: collectors today are perfectly ready to pay equivalent sums for contemporary masterpieces and Old Masters works”, says Artprice. The three most expensive sales since the start of the year have been works by three great names: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gustav Klimt and Constantin Brancusi.

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