Art prices are now at their highest levels since the speculative bubble burst back in 1990. The Artprice Global Index calculated using data on repeat sales reveals that following the fall auction season in New York, art prices rose by 24.4% between January and December 2004. Taking into account fluctuations in exchange rates, the increase in euro terms was just 14% over the same period.
If prices continue to advance at the same pace as in 2004, they could well surpass November 1990 highs in November 2005, thus taking art market prices to unprecedented levels. Collectors seeking to make substantial gains might by that stage consider it the right time to sell off some of their art assets they acquired in the 1980s.
While prices for most impressionist artists were strongly driven by speculation between 1989 and 1990, today they are far below these levels. For example, works by Monet are still valued at 36% below 1990 levels, and pieces by Pissarro and Sisley have lost 25% and 43% in value respectively. Even the historic work "Au Moulin de La Galette" by Renoir that fetched 71 million dollars on 17 May 1990 would sell at a loss, given that on average Renoir prices have fallen 47% since this painting went up for auction. Overall, although the Artprice Index of impressionist painters remains 36% lower today than it was 15 years ago, it has still gained 44% since 1997.
Artprice index for the main art movement trends from 1990 to 2004:
- Renaissance: -21%
- 17th C. Northern School: +12%
- 18th C. French Paintings: -27%
- Romanticism: -19%
- Barbizon School: +8%
- Hudson River School: +248%
- French Impressionism: -36%
- American Impressionism: +164%
- Cubism: -25%
- Surrealism: -16%
- Expressionism: -22%
- American Abstraction: +85%
- Pop Art: +123%
- Contemporary Photographs: +57%
Artprice lists over 21 million auction prices and indices covering over 306,000 artists collected from 2,900 international auction houses.