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Italian Artists Auction Market 2015 – 2018

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Auction sales of Italian post-war and contemporary art are up after two years of decline

After two years of decreasing sales, Italian art auction sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips reversed the negative trend last year, with 5.6% higher sales up from $174 million in 2017 to $183.9 million, despite an 11% fall in lots offered for the same period. Part of the reason could lie in Italy’s decision in August 2017 to relax the country’s notably stringent art export regulations, by lifting restrictions on export rules for art works produced by deceased artists over the past 70 years. It is predicted that this could liberalise the market for works by post-war artists.

London gains prominence as New York sales suffer a 62% drop in 2018

In 2015, Post-War & Contemporary art auction sales in New York accounted for a third of Italian art sales value, with $113.9 million in sales. However, last year only $21.8 million in Italian art sales went through New York, accounting for less than 12% of the total. In comparison, London’s role in this market has strengthened over the same period (sales were up 43%), with market share increasing from 54% in 2015 to 68% in 2018. This trend was predominantly triggered by Christie’s and Sotheby’s strategy to focus on London as their centre for selling Post-War Italian art, with Christie’s London sales up by 55% in sales value from 2017 and Sotheby’s up 21%, whilst New York saw a 91% decline for Christie’s and 54% decline for Sotheby’s during the same period. A similar trend was seen for Post-War Italian art in Phillips evening and day sales.

About this report:

This report presents an in-depth comparative analysis of Italian artists at auction in Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips from 2015 to 2018. The analysis also provides analytical tools looking at annual trends in this period.


Who is it for?

This report is popular among dealers, auction houses and collectors, who want to get an in-depth understanding of auction trends in the Italian modern and contemporary art market and follow the performance of the three top auction houses last year.

ArtTactic also offer bespoke reports on the Italian market. For further information please contact us on


Analytical tools:
Comparable Performance: Italian sales performance comparison between Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips in New York, London and Milan including: Total sales, Lots sold, Average Prices and Auction Indicators.
Top Artists Analysis: Section looking at the top 30 artists sold across all sales channels.
Top Prices: Ranking by the highest prices achieved and by top price-to-estimate performance.
Italian Sales Location Analysis: Italian art sold at auction across all three locations with breakdown, analysis and top prices.

Auction sales of Italian post-war and contemporary art are up after two years of decline