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(m+) Art auctions: Cheyenne Westphal expects a record year with stars like Jean


One of the most important art auctions of the year is taking place in New York today. Jean-Michel Basquiat's Untitled could fetch $100 million. Overall, 2022 could be a record year for the auction market, says Cheyenne Westphal, global chairwoman at auctioneer Phillips. New ultra-rich and crypto multi-millionaires are changing the artist rankings. This catapults street art stars like Basquiat and Banksy to the top ranks.

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Record price

: "Untitled" (1982) by

Jean-Michel Basquiat fetched

the highest price of 110.5 million dollars at Sotheby's in 2017 for a work by the artist, who died in 1988.

Another "Untitled" work by Basquiat is coming up for sale today (May 18) at auction house Phillips - and could fetch a similar price

Photo: Uncredited/ dpa

German Cheyenne Westphal is Global Chairwoman at auction house Phillips, number three in the art market behind Sotheby's and Christies.

As the long-standing manager of post-war and contemporary art at Sotheby's, she has helped shape the rise of this art market segment, which now accounts for more than half of all art auction turnover.

During a conversation in her office in London's Berkeley Square, she promised an auction market record for 2022.

She also talks about the rocketing rise of street art heroes Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy, the phenomenon of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the Russian owners of the auction house.

manager magazin: Ms. Westphal, was 2021 the year of recovery on the art market after the Corona crash?

Enlarge image

Since starting in the industry in 1992,

Cheyenne Westphal has risen to become one of the most powerful dealers in contemporary art.

The daughter of a pharmacist couple from Baden-Baden owes her first name to her mother's admiration for Karl May

Photo: Brian Ach / WireImage

Cheyenne Westphal:

That's right.

2021 has really been an incredible year for us.

That was the best year in Phillips history.

For many years, we have had the goal of reaching the billion mark in auction sales - and that really happened in 2021.

We made 1.2 billion in sales and that was an increase of 32 percent on 2019. We are not counting the full year 2020 because auctions were canceled at that time due to the corona pandemic.

That means Phillips has gained market share.

Because the analysis of 700 auctioneers by economist Roman Kräussl's mm art index shows that the auction turnover has only increased by a good 24 percent overall.

The art market has not yet made up for the 39 percent slump in 2021.

As far as we can research, in 2021 we were the fastest growing of all auction houses.

This is of course meant as a percentage.

In absolute terms, Phillips is now clearly number three behind Sotheby's and Christie's.

Overall, the market has been stagnating for almost 15 years.

In 2008 there was almost nine billion dollars in auction sales.

Then a good nine billion in 2021, with three real slumps in between: 2009, 2016 to 2020. That sounds like a difficult business, doesn't it?

It's been relatively stable over the years.

And that's why we were so happy that last year really got going.

Of course, there are a lot of reasons for this and we're happy to go through them.

Would you dare give a tip for the market as a whole?

How long will it take before the nine billion now comes back to almost 11 billion in 2019?

Already this year, or will it take longer?

It looks like all of that could happen this year.

We are of course aware of what is happening in the world.

But the smaller auctions that we already had in 2022 were excellent.

Above all, we are now preparing for the most important auction season we have ever had.

At Phillips, the top lot is a Jean-Michel Basquiat for $70 million.

It's the most expensive painting we've sold at Phillips to date.

And then of course I also see what the competition is doing and I know that they will really have a very, very strong season.

The art market's previous sales record of more than $12 billion dates back to 2015. Is there even a chance that we might see a new record in 2022?

2015 was an incredible year.

What I already know is that the season will be very strong.

And if that continues in the fall, then it's possible that we'll be back at the level of 2015 or maybe even higher.

Let's now come to the prices for the top segment: Roman Kräussl calculates a 26 percent plus for the art index for 2021. What are the signs for 2022 in terms of prices?

It's possible that 2022 will be another strong year, but for that there must also be a great November season.

And more super seasons in Asia.

This is important.

It's still early days, but so far everything we've been able to bring to the auction has sold really, really well.

The sales quotas were sometimes more than 90 percent.

This is remarkable, because auctions show a decline rate ("buy in") of around 30 percent on a long-term average.

Already in 2021 it was only around 20 percent, with you now even less.

Let's look back at the past few years since the financial crisis - and dare to look forward to the coming decade.

Since the financial crisis, the prices for the top 50 artists with the highest turnover have increased by a factor of 2.5.

However, equities and gold have seen a fivefold increase since the financial crisis.

How did the stock market boom shape the art market?

What we've seen in the last two years is that a lot of people have made a lot of money.

Lots of hedge funds too.

Its founders and employees are of course also important customers of ours and do not hesitate when there is a great picture that could be an iconic work for the collection.

There is a lot of money on the market and customers do not shy away from top properties.

We can currently offer a large number of top properties per season.

The era of cheap money is now coming to an end.

We probably no longer have these growth rates in the economy.

Stagnation, with high inflation and low growth, is now seen as the main scenario for many.

What do your customers say about this?

Do they buy more cautiously now or are they even more interested in art?

So far, the interest has been very strong and it actually runs through all areas of art.

So from very young art, which is of course very popular at the moment, to the classics of the art market, whether it's Basquiat or Andy Warhol or Gerhard Richter.

It helps us that the art market has expanded incredibly since 2019.

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Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-05-17

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