ART+ Index in 2014

Index of Czech Art Auctions

The ART+ Index dropped 10 per cent last year and finished at 737.19 points. The index had been continually dropping since October 2013 and hit a two-year low in September 2014. At the end of the year, it gained again and returned to above 700 points, where it remained from the end of 2012 to the spring of 2014. Even though the year 2013 was a record one in terms of turnover, two years ago the index gained only seven per cent, which hinted at a certain market slowdown. The year before, the index gained 58 per cent year-on-year.

Index ART+

Last year’s decrease in the ART+ Index does not signal any fundamental change on the Czech market, nor a drop in prices. It is the consequence of long-term market orientation on a small circle of artists from the ranks of classic modernism. The prices in this segment are already so high that only a limited circle of buyers acquires works by the most expensive artists. When current collectors restrict their acquisitions and no new strong players enter the market, stagnation or decline occurs. We warned against this trend already in the ART+ Almanac for 2012: “With higher prices, market instability increases, as a growing portion of the turnover relies on a decreasing number of players.” The index gains at the end of last year can be explained primarily by the high concentration of auctions in the autumn months. Almost half the turnover for the whole year was achieved in the last quarter.


The development of the ART+ Index last year was affected primarily by the decrease in total market turnover. It was 10 per cent lower for the year and the same decrease can be seen in terms of the works on offer. Whereas works worth a total of CZK 886 million were offered at auctions in 2013, last year the amount was CZK 797 million (the sum of the starting prices in the ART+ database, excluding auctioneer commission). This means that many expensive works of lower quality by the most important artists will not come on the market now at all, because their owners do not perceive the current situation as a suitable time to sell.


Other market parameters – the success rate of sales, the value of growth in revenues and unsold items – remained proportionally at the same or similar level as in 2013. On average, 45 per cent of offered works, representing 62 per cent of the works on offer in terms of price, find a buyer. The average amount of price rises on sold items dropped from 40 to 39 per cent, while the value of unsold items decreased due to the smaller range of works on offer overall from CZK 340 million to CZK 300 million (price excluding auctioneer commission). Therefore, the general rule that around 40 out of 100 offered works are sold (these will more likely be more expensive items) still applies. Compared to their starting price, their price at auction will increase by two-fifths.


Whereas the number of works auctioned for more than one million korunas each dropped from 157 to 136, there was a significant increase in the number of items auctioned in the CZK 100,000 to CZK 1 million price range. Whereas these totalled 782 in 2013, last year there were 891 of them. This increase is one of the most positive pieces of news from last year, as it signals an increase in prices in the medium-price segment. This is also proven by several dozen artist records. As a consequence, the average price of auctioned works also increased. Not counting million-koruna items, the average price of paintings and antiques sold last year at Czech auctions equals more than CZK 44,000. This average price increased to CZK 41,000 in 2013, while it was between CZK 33,000 and CZK 35,000 several years earlier.


Index ART+


The ART+ Index is calculated based on turnover, the size of price growth and the value of unsold items. It thus converts several key data categories that serve to describe the market into one figure. Turnover alone, which is the most frequently monitored figure, can be quite misleading. A high percentage of unsold items and whether a work sells for the starting price or at a significant premium say more about the market’s health than the absolute price. The index is always calculated at the end of the month, but only in months in which auctions are organised. It is constructed as a cumulative sum of the results of all auction houses for the previous year, which at the same time factors in changes in the dates of individual auctions.


The term “art market” involves a high degree of generalisation. In reality, there is no single art market, but a host of partial markets, each of which has its own dynamic. The art market index in this sense represents an even higher degree of abstraction. Its fluctuations cannot be used to automatically calculate the price increase or decrease of individual artworks. The ART+ Index is primarily an instrument for long-term analysis and its short-term fluctuations need to be perceived as a reflection of the market atmosphere. The index expresses price increases or decreases only indirectly.



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