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The state of the "art" market

Artnet's second Intelligence Report is out, examining global art sales at auction.

Data: Artnet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

By the numbers: A recent paper from Marshall Ma, Charles N. Noussair and Luc Renneboog looked at the prices fetched at auction by paintings of different colors. The average hammer price was $504,349, but if a painting had a 1 standard deviation increase in the percentage of blue hue on the canvas, the price went up by 10.6%.

  • Street art is having a moment: KAWS, the most successful of the current generation of street artists, saw his work gross more than $30m at auction in 2018.
  • The broader auction market is flat, with $14.7 billion of sales overall.
  • The top-10 list of the most expensive artworks sold last year by artists born after 1945 is dominated by African-Americans. The top 3 spots (and 6 of the top 10) go to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Kerry James Marshall's "Past Times," which sold to Diddy for $21 million, comes in at number 5 on the list, beating everybody except for Basquiat and Jeff Koons.
  • Overall, Basquiat sold $254 million of art at auction in 2018 — beating out Andy Warhol, on $244 million. Picasso trounced them both, however, with an auction total of $747 million. The top-grossing woman was Yayoi Kusama, on $109 million. The top-grossing living artist was David Hockney, on $206 million.