2021 is undoubtedly the year of NFTs! Thanks to its explosive growth, contemporary art sales reached an all-time high. According to Artprice, the industry rebounded from the previous year and recorded $2.7 Billion Annual Sales. The report further suggests that the mainstream success of NFT projects, some even fetching eye-watering sums, contributed to the record-breaking numbers.
Artprice CEO Thierry Ehrmann explained that “auctioneers quickly adopted a more online approach. Photography and prints have been particularly successful in this new online environment and in 2021, we have seen the sensational arrival of completely dematerialized artworks, the famous NFTs.”
Report Highlights: Contemporary Art Sales
$2.7 billion worth of Contemporary works changed hands at auction over the 2020/21 exercise, an incredible figure considering the negative impact of the pandemic. “The recovery is all the more robust for being based on an unprecedented volume of transactions with more than 100,000 works sold by just over 34,600 artists.” What’s even more surprising is that these figures are all new records!
NFT Sales account for one-third of online sales or two percent of the overall art market. The figure may not seem much but it’s comprised of many notable NFT Sales. For example, Beeple’s digital piece, Everydays: The First 5,000 Days (2021), pulled in $69.3 Million to top the list. It also made history by being the third-highest-priced piece of a living artist.
To illustrate why this sale represents a significant shift in the art scene, we need to look at the most successful contemporary artist. This accolade belongs to Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose art was sold for more than $93 Million over the last year. So despite being a new medium, record-breaking NFT sales are not far off compared to more established genres.
Another notable highlight in the report is that the Asian market is pushing the growth in contemporary art sales. “China took 40 percent of sales at auction this year, compared to 32 percent in the United States. Hong Kong only narrowly lost to New York as the hub of contemporary art sales. Great Britain came in third place at 16 percent.” This breakdown represents a stronger, more diverse and denser market than ever before.
Trip Down Memory Lane: How NFT is Transforming the Art Scene
The crypto buzz started back in December when Beeple sold a group of works for $3.5 Million. Since then, the NFT industry has never looked back. Crypto Art went on to lead the NFT boom. Even fine art auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s have recognized the merits of NFT Art. Unexpectedly, they did not just open their doors; they kicked them wide open. Both auction houses hold regular NFT exhibitions and now even accept cryptocurrencies for non-blockchain art.
As the numbers suggest, the NFT market is growing at a pace that no one could have predicted, with new utilities popping one after another. However, it will always have a significant influence in shaping the art scene. To illustrate, a total of 102,000 contemporary works have changed hands in 12 months, ten times more than 20 years ago. This remarkable result reflects the dynamism of an Art Market perpetually attracting new buyers thanks to NFTs.