in 2023 the most expensive artworks at auction paled in comparison to last year.

Origen: The Art Market Recap 2023 | Artsy

The top 100 lots at auction this year totaled $2.4 billion, compared to $4.1 billion in 2022. This steep decline was evident from midway through the year, when combined sales across Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips saw an 18% decline for the first half of 2023, according to ArtTactic, through to the fall auction season in New York, which fell widely flat against expectations.

One can see the sharp disparity year over year by simply looking at the handful of most expensive works. This year yielded two artworks that sold for more than $100 million—Pablo Picasso’s Femme à la montre (1932) and Gustav Klimt’s Dame mit Fächer (1917)—compared to six works in 2022.

(The rosy results of 2022 were powered at the top end by impressive artworks and sales from historical collections, including the Paul Allen sale at Christie’s, the biggest sale in auction history.)

In 2023, the auction market continued to be weighted towards its very top end.

Ultra-contemporary artists experienced the strongest surge in demand.

Ultra-contemporary artists are also experiencing the strongest momentum in terms of popularity.

Female ultra-contemporary artists are seeing more equity in the auction market than their forebears.

Figuration is still the market favorite.