Top 100 Most Collectible Living Artists;10 Most Expensive Living British

Who Are the Top 100 Most Collectible Living Artists for March 2015?
artnet News, Thursday, March 5, 2015


artnet owns the world’s largest and most comprehensive price database for secondary market sales of fine and decorative art. With the help of the artnet Analytics team, we crunched the numbers to assemble the definitive list of the world’s most collectible living artists at auction.

We looked at sales results from auction houses worldwide over the past four years, the post-recession period, which we believe has the most relevance for both current market conditions and future trends. From these we derived two intersecting lists.

The first list shows the top 100 living artists ranked by total value of secondary market sales; the second presents the top 100 lots by living artists, ranked by price. Whereas the first list displays overall sales volume by value and quantity, the second tracks top lots for individual artworks and therefore contains duplicate entries for artists where an artist’s work is in high demand. Small arrows indicate a change in rank from the previous month.

In addition to the name of the artist, the sale year, and price for each work of art, we felt it important to also include the name of the auction house and the location of the sale. Not surprisingly, we found that London, New York, and Hong Kong continue to be dominant points of sale.

For more information about top lots, including the name of individual works, or comparable sales, or to research other artists beyond the Top 100 Most Collectible Living Artists at auction, we invite readers to visit the artnet Price Database Fine Art and Design at We source, update, and publish this Top 100 list quarterly on artnet News.

Benjamin Genocchio, Editor in Chief, artnet News


1. Peter Doig
Swamped (1990) is the piece that pushed Doig past Hirst to the top of our list. Demand for his paintings has grown continually stronger over the years, despite market observers fretting in 2007—pre-art market crash—that his prices had gotten overheated when a Russian billionaire in a bidding war shelled out $10 million for White Canoe (1990-91) at a February 2007 auction at Sotheby’s London, more than quadrupling the high $2.4 million estimate.

Today, work by Doig occupies eleven out of twenty spots from artnet’s data for the highest sale prices at auction in the past ten years. Swamped sold for $25,925,000 in May at Christie’s New York, nearly $8 million more than the previous record set for Pine House (Rooms for Rent) which sold for $18,085,000 in 2014.

Visitors encounter “The Golden Calf" by Damien Hirst. Photo courtesy of Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

2. Damien Hirst
The YBA earns a solid second position on our list with the sale of Lullaby Spring (2002) at Sotheby’s London Contemporary Evening auction in 2007, fetching $19,230,922. Additional Sotheby’s London sales for The Golden Calf (2008) and The Kingdom (2008) are indicators of Hirst’s popularity: seven of his works are in the top twenty pieces sold at auction for living British artists in the past ten years, as reported by artnet.

Glenn Brown, "Ornamental Despair (Painting For Ian Curtis) Copied from the Stars Like Dust, 1986 by Chris Foss" (1994). Photo courtesy of Blouin Artinfo from Sotheby's.

3. Glenn Brown
Brown holds on to the third position in our list with his painting The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali (after John Martin) (1998). The piece sold for $8,110,651 from Sotheby’s London in 2012. A 2013 sale of Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) Copied from the Stars Like Dust, 1986 by Chris Foss (1994) went for $5,746,039.


4. David Hockney
Hockney’s sale of Beverly Hills Housewife (diptych) (1966-67) for $7,922,500 at Christie’s New York in 2009 keeps him in the fourth spot in our top ten, along with sales of additional paintings from the 1960s: Great Pyramid at Giza with Broken head from Thebes (1963), California Art Collector (1964), and The Splash (1966).

Antony Gormley, Angel of the North, 1994-8. © Antony Gormley and Gateshead Council.

5. Antony Gormley
In 2011, a maquette of Gormley’s Angel of the North (1994-98) sold for $5,376,620 at Christie’s London, far higher than the original cost of erecting the actual sculpture in Gateshead ($1.34 million).

Bridget Riley, Chant 2, 1967

6. Bridget Riley
Riley’s sale of Op-Art masterpiece Chant 2 (1967) at Sotheby’s London in 2008 keeps her in our sixth spot with a premium inclusive price of $5,104,125.

Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), at the New Museum. Photo courtesy of Glenwood NYC.

7. Chris Ofili
The Holy Virgin Mary (1996) has had its share of controversy, but its sale for $4,532,945 at Christie’s in June introduces Ofili to our list.

Tracey Emin, My Bed (1998). Photo courtesy of Tate.

8. Tracey Emin
Emin’s installation (now on view at the Tate Britain) was sold for $4, 365,678 a year ago at Christie’s London. Its owner, Count Christian Duerckheim, has loaned the artwork to the British museum for the next decade (and maybe longer).

Frank Auerbach, Primrose Hill, Summer (1968). Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

9. Frank Auerbach
Auerbach’s sale of Primrose Hill, Summer (1968) at Sotheby’s London last June for $3,972,122 surpassed his previous record for the 2008 sale of Head of Helen Gillespie (1963) by $95,578.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled (2003). Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.

10. Anish Kapoor
Kapoor jumps into the top ten with the 2008 sale of his sculpture Untitled (2003). While the list is dominated by painters, British Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor—known for his bravado and tendency to work on a grand scale—clearly has broad appeal for contemporary collectors.

While looking at artist’s auction history by lot gives a snapshot of the artist’s top works over the past ten years, looking at the top artists by value over the same period gives a slightly different view, one that speaks more to an artist’s long-term success. While some are on both lists (by lot and value), including Kapoor, Hockney, and Riley, others like Tracey Emin and Chris Ofili had more recent successes that pulled them into the top. Here are the top ten British artists by value over the past ten years:

1. Damien Hirst:           $544,093,729
2. Peter Doig                 $248,477,617
3. David Hockney        $136,532,128
4. Anish Kapoor           $120,463,117
5. Frank Auerbach       $103,670,737
6. Bridget Riley            $52,460,198
7. Glenn Brown            $52,324,460
8. Banksy                      $52,243,150
9. Antony Gormley      $44,492,720
10. Gilbert & George   $44,349,429

For related coverage, see:

5 Latin American Artists You Need to Know (And Buy)

Top 50 Most Expensive Chinese Artists of 2014 at Auction

Who Are the 25 Most Expensive Middle Eastern Artists at Auction?

Who Are the Top 100 Most Collectible Living Artists for March 2015?