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Findings: African Art Statistics & Facts

This segment, which had a sellthrough rate of 72%, proved to be an exception to the morose context of the international art market and the slowing-down of African economies in 2016.

Modern art led the market with a sell-through rate of 76%, and 55% in value of the total amount of sales, reaching US$23.3 million.

Strauss & Co, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the leading auction house for the total amount of works sold with 31% in value and 57% of lots.
Bids that exceeded the symbolic threshold of US$1 million rose by 200%, including 50% for modern art and 50% for contemporary art.
London held the most important place in the market in 2016, considering the number of operators in our study that organised sales (40% of the total), the number of proposed lots (2.9% of the total) and of sold lots (28.1% and US$11.9 million in the year) and institutional and commercial exhibitions.
The enlargement of the buyers’ base in all categories.

Female artists continue to lead this market for the second consecutive year and constitute a very important market share. They represent 60% of the top five most expensive selling lots in all categories and 66.5% in value for this same ranking.

The most expensive work sold in any category is South African-born artist Marlene Dumas’s painting, “Night nurse” (1999-2000), which sold for US$2.5 million at Phillips New-York in 2016.

In contemporary art, the works sold beyond their high estimates, representing 58% in value, or US$8 million, and 37.9% between their estimates or US$5,7 million with regard to the total number of sales in this category.
Despite the majority of auction houses being young, they recorded a strong dynamic and good results, sales organised on the African continent counting for 46.1% of the total value, fetching US$19.6 million and 93.2% of lots.
Lawrence Lemaoana (b.1982) Real Power is not granted it is performed, 2017 Khanga textile and cotton embroidery, 155x115 cm, court. Afronova
Lawrence Lemaoana (b.1982)
Real Power is not granted it is performed, 2017
Khanga textile and cotton embroidery,
155×115 cm, court. Afronova