How the Power Rank works
The top 50 artists featured in this report have been chosen on the basis of their total auction sales of $1m+ artworks between 2018–22, with the added criteria of consistency – each artist had to have an average of five artworks sold per year, a minimum of 25 lots over the whole five-year period.
Under each artist’s individual profile, you will see an additional classification, the Power Rank: a measure of each artist’s market performance over the past 12 months.
Drawing on public auction data from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips, for sales that took place over a 12-month period from July 2022 to June 2023, this ranking was developed to provide a more holistic picture of the trends that are emerging by focusing on a broader range of factors that capture what we define as “market power”. Instead of only looking at total sales and the number of lots sold, the Power Rank aims to identify artists whose markets show signs of growing momentum and interest.
The Sotheby’s/ArtTactic $1m+ Power Rank is based on a combination of five factors that influence an artist’s standing in the auction market today. These are:
1) Size: total value of $1m+ lots sold
2) Liquidity: number of $1m+ lots sold
3) Price point: average price of $1m+ lots sold
4) Price confidence: performance of $1m+ lots, based on their hammer price against pre-sale low estimates
5) Momentum: percentage change in sales value and lots sold for $1m+ lots
Each factor is given equal weight, and artists are ranked based on all five criteria separately (with number one being the highest position). An average rank is then calculated by adding together an artist’s ranking for each factor. For example, if an artist is ranked first in three categories and sixth in two categories, their average rank is three. The artist with the lowest numeric rank appears at the top of the overall list.
Combining these five factors – instead of solely focusing on the highest overall auction value – provides a more balanced picture of an artist’s market performance. We can assess the demand for an artist through the number of artworks sold (liquidity) and the overall value of these artworks (market size). We have also calculated the average price for an artist’s work, and how lots perform against their low estimate as a metric for the current confidence in the artist’s market at auction. Finally, the momentum indicator allows us to evaluate the direction an artist’s market is heading by studying the changes in both lots sold and overall sales during a specific period. This means the Power Rank presents a more nuanced picture of an artist’s market, and allows us to identify artists that might not have made it to the top in terms of overall sales, but are showing strength in other areas. Those high in the rankings are generally performing well across all these market metrics.