The art market reaches a world record in 2021, boosted by contemporary and NFT

Banksy is among the two most successful living artists in the world at auction, according to Artprice.

Here, an employee of auction house Sotheby's puts up one of his works, 'Vandalized Oil (Helicopters)', in London February 22, 2022. REUTERS - Tom Nicholson

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

New world record for art: in 2021, auction sales reached $17 billion.

According to Artprice's annual report published on Monday March 14, this increase is notably boosted by contemporary art and accompanied by the dematerialization of works, such as NFTs.


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In 2021, exchanges increased by 60% compared to 2020, boosted by

NFTs, digital works



is not new

, but the pandemic has shaken up practices and accelerated the dematerialization of the art market.

For two years, “ 

the health crisis dramatically accelerated the dematerialization of the art market.


% of the

6,300 auction houses monitored by Artprice now have all the back-office facilities for online auctions

 ,” Thierry Ehrmann, head of this company, the world leader in information on the market, told AFP. art market.

Sales of digital works exploded in 2021. The first SMS in history, transmitted by the operator Vodafone on December 3, 1992, was thus sold at auction last December, for 107,000 euros.

With 111,240 lots sold worldwide (artists born after 1945, paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, prints, videos, NFTs, etc.), " 

contemporary art now accounts for 20

% of the market compared to 3

% in 2000

 “, he specifies.

With 40% of total world sales, China has become the world leader, ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom.

This while London is recording a drop in sales, the first effects of Brexit being reflected in the postponement of sales from London to Paris.

With 91,699 works sold,

France ranks

second after the United States, but it remains in fourth place in terms of total cumulative sales, exceeding one billion dollars for the first time.

Another striking phenomenon is the massive arrival of artists from the African continent on the contemporary art market.

Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo has become the second most popular African artist in the world. 

To read also: 

NFT: what is "crypto-art"?


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