The contemporary art market experienced a record-breaking year in 2013/14, smashing through the US$2bil (RM6.6bil) mark for the first time.

US artists Jeff Koons, Christopher Wool, and the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, come up as the market's biggest stars – with auction sales totalling €339mil (RM1.4bil) – according to Artprice, a Paris-based organisation which keeps the world's biggest database on the contemporary art market.

In the year from July 2013, sales of contemporary art at public auctions reached US$2.046bil, up 40% from the previous year, based on Artprice's annual report. Thirteen pieces alone fetched more than €10mil each, compared with four in the previous year.

Pop artist Koons, the subject of a major retrospective due to be held at Paris's Pompidou Centre at the end of November, currently holds the record for the “most expensive work of art by a living artist ever sold at auction”. His Balloon Dog (Orange) went under the hammer in November 2013 at Christie's in New York, for a record US$58.4mil.

For the record: Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog (Orange), above, was auctioned for US$58.5mil in 2013, setting a new record for the highest price ever paid at an auction for a single artwork by a living artist. Below, Jean-Michel Basquait's Dustheads, which fetched US$48.8mil at an auction in August last year.


The rest of Artprice's top ten is made up of Zeng Fanzhi (China), Peter Doig (Britain), Richard Prince (US), Martin Kippenberger (Germany) who died in 1997, and three more Chinese artists – Luo Zhongli, Chen Yifei and Zhan Xiaogang. Fanzhi's 2001 painting The Last Supper was sold at auction in Hong Kong last year for US$23mil.

Despite the presence of late artists such as Basquiat and Kippenberger in Artprice's top rankings, the organisation's president and founder Thierry Ehrmann says the old adage that “a good artist is a dead artist” is changing.

“For the first time, young artists voluntarily want to start on the second market,” he says, referring to auctions, as opposed to galleries, which are known in the art world as the first market. “It's a real revolution. The two markets are in the process of merging.”

The Last Supper by Zeng Fanzhi, which sold for US$23mil last year in Hong Kong, where record sales have made it the art market capital of Asia.

Of the three top-selling contemporary artists, defined as artists born after 1945, Basquiat maintained his lead in 2013/14 with sales worth around €162mil while Koons and Wool clocked up €115mil and €61mil respectively.

Another emerging trend is the growing art market in the Asian region. While US artists remain ahead in terms of individual sales, China has overtaken the US in terms of overall market share. China currently contributes 40% of the world art market sales worth US$811mil compared to US$752mil for the US. – AFP/RelaxNews

Top 10 Contemporary Artists, based on the accumulated sales of their works from July 2013 to July 2014.

1. Jean-Michel Basquiat | €162,277,646
2. Jeff Koons | €115,039,516
3. Christopher Wool | €61,759,209
4. Zeng Fanzhi | €59,608,941
5. Peter Doig | €33,925,162
6. Richard Prince | €28,132,760
7. Martin Kippenberger | €25,902,248
8. Luo Zhongli | €24,740,054 91
9. Chen Yifei | €22,778,655
10. Zhang Xiaogang | €20,785,876

Source: Artprice