What 2020’s Most Expensive Painting Says About The Art Market

Top line

A Francis Bacon triptych that sold at Sotheby’s for $ 84.5 million was the most expensive work of art to be auctioned in 2020. This was a low price compared to the biggest sales in previous years, as economic uncertainty caused wealthy art collectors to hold their own.

Francis Bacon’s Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus during a press preview at Sotheby’s … [+] in London before its auction.

PA Images via Getty Images

Key factors

The most expensive piece of all time was Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which sold for $ 142.4 million in 2013 and was the most expensive piece to ever sell at auction at the time.

The New York Times reported that the triptych was privately purchased prior to auctioning, which could lower the final price of art for sale.

The most expensive work of 2019 was Claude Monets Meules, which grossed $ 110 million, and the most expensive sale of 2018 was an act of $ 157 million by Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was auctioned for an unbelievable US $ 450 million in 2017 and remains the most expensive work of art ever to be sold at auction.

Key background

The year wasn’t all downfall and darkness in the art world. By leveraging online sales, the top auction houses haven’t been hit as badly by coronavirus as expected, and some have even been able to attract record numbers of first-time buyers. There were also unprecedented auction prices in interesting categories: A Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton fetched $ 31.8 million in October, making it the most expensive dinosaur fossil ever sold at auction. A legendary pair of the basketball superstar’s Michael Jordan shoes broke sneaker records when a bidder bought them for $ 615,000 in August.

further reading

Francis Bacon Triptych Sells for $ 84.6 million (New York Times)

European Auction Hosts Weather Crisis As Customers Spend Millions Online On Art (The Art Newspaper)

By introducing online auctions, Sotheby’s generated sales of over $ 5 billion in 2020 (Observer)

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