Art market

New price guide charts the rises...and falls of artists at auction, we give you the best bits

Which artist went up 699% in five years?


Art Sales Index is best known for its listings of prices made at auction, available on its website (

Now the company has come up with a mighty tome, the Price Guide (£39.95, % +44 (0)1784 451 145) which, unlike the others, gives a median price for each artist as well as, for the better selling names (over 20 works sold in 2002), two indices. One gives the percentage increase of the average price of a work of art by a given artist in the last five years; the other is the same calculation but for the median price, i.e. the middle price.

The artists who have most appreciated at auction are a mixed bunch, some expected, but some totally surprising. Who would have thought that prices for the 19th-century American artist, James Butterworth, could have increased by 669% in five years, or Delvaux works on paper by 794%? The average price for his work, across all media is now £132,317. Other strong risers are Maillol (+201%) and Giacometti (+156%) and the living German artist, Gerhard Richter (+202%).

The book gives a list of the “Top 250 artists for 2002”, whose prices have risen by at least 20% in 2002 compared to 1997-2001. The names reflect the fortunes of the market: for example, it is no surprise to find that Ivan Aivazoffski, the hottest name for New Russian roubles, increased by 289% in 2002.

The long depressed Scandinavian art market is making a comeback, with rises for Jorn (+242%), Sandberg (+173%), Jolin (+164%), Thaulow (+149%) among others.

Another rather unfashionable sector, post-war French art, is also on the move, with Arman (+199%), Dufy (+153%), Herbin (140%), Esteve (+129%) and Survage works on paper (+194%) all going up.

Like the stock market, not everything rises, of course, and among the declines are Utrillo (-23%), Kiefer (-33%) Vuillard (-16% for oils and -34% for watercolours) and Joos de Momper (-16%).

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Which artist went up 699% in five years?'