Works by women artists outperform art by men when they return to auction, a study found.
Works by female artists are outperforming those by male artists in repeat auction sales, according to a new report. The findings are based on research by Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the auction house’s data analysis subsidiary, which looked at the performance of artworks that appeared at auction more than once during the period between 2012 and 2018.
Sorting data from repeat auction sales of over 63,000 works into indices for female and male artists, the art market analysis firm discovered that works by women bought in 2012 were typically worth 72.9 percent more if they were sold in 2018. Works by male artists, however, had only appreciated in value by 8.3 percent over the same period, according to the study. Broken down into era-specific indices, works by women artists active after 1945 rose in value by 87.7 percent more than works by male artists from the same period, while works by non-contemporary women artists outperformed those by male artists by 30.7 percent.
The gender breakdown in the number of transactions tabulated by Sotheby’s Mei Moses—2,472 repeat sales of work by women, compared to 55,706 repeat sales of works by men—reflects the art market’s enduring focus on male artists. However, the findings suggest those disparate numbers may become closer to equal in the coming years. As Michael Klein, the head of the data firm, noted in writing up the findings for Sotheby’s Art Agency, Partners: “one might assume—with reason—that the market share might shift more in the next decade.”