After a year 2020 marked by the pandemic, the auction house Sotheby’s announced on Wednesday that it had reached in 2021 the highest sales figure in its history, at 7.3 billion dollars, in particular thanks to a new audience and to Asian buyers. .
This figure of 7.3 billion dollars constitutes “the highest total” of the company in “277 years of existence”, welcomes the London house now based in New York, bought in 2019 by the Franco-Israeli telecoms magnate Patrick Drahi.
Of this total, auctions totaled six billion dollars (1.3 billion for private sales), up 71% over 2020, and even 26% compared to 2019, the year before the health crisis. .
According to experts from auction houses and the art market, the pandemic has not extinguished the appetite and means of collectors, but the year 2020 was characterized by a lower supply, caught up in 2021.
Among the iconic auctions, Sotheby’s totaled $ 676 million in a single November evening in New York, with the art collection sold after the divorce of the wealthy couple formed by real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda Burg, an administrator. honorary from the Met Museum.
Symbol of the new profile of collectors, one of the most expensive pieces of the evening, “Le Nez” by Alberto Giacometti, had been bought for 78.4 million dollars by the founder of the cryptocurrency platform Tron, the entrepreneur Chinese-American Justin Sun, 31.
According to Sotheby’s, 46% of auctions above five million dollars in 2021 come from Asian collectors.
Moreover, it was buyers from this continent who bought the most expensive painting in the Macklowe collection, “N ° 7” by the American abstract expressionist Marc Rothko ($ 82.4 million), or the Banksy the most expensive in the world, “The girl with the ball”, renamed “Love is in the bin” (“Love is in the bin”), a partially self-destroyed work by the British artist sold in London for 18.6 million pounds, or $ 25.4 million.
The pandemic, which made physical sales impossible in 2020, forced auction houses to innovate and become more digital, which “dramatically expanded access to an unprecedented number of participants in the course. of the last 12 months, ”notes Sotheby’s, indicating that 39% of buyers are“ new ”in 2021.
In this context, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), these digital objects certified as unique thanks to blockchain technology, made a strong entry into the art market in 2021, like the computer program at the origin of the web, sold for $ 5.4 million in July. But the balance of their sales at Sotheby’s remains relatively low (100 million in 2021).
Among other records set this year, Sotheby’s is also highlighting the most expensive “sneakers” ever sold, a pair of “Nike Air Yeezy 1” worn by their inspirer, rapper Kanye West, and which reached $ 1.8 million at a private sale.