Predicting Art Market Profit Potential Pt. 2 –

Predicting Art Market Profit Potential Pt. 2 –

Since posting part 1 of my Predicting Art Market Profit Potential posts I have had some people question whether it is possible to predict whether an artist will achieve market success before they actually do.  Unfortunately many people either don’t know about or don’t understand how it works which is why I am writing this post.   One person said that: “A successful artist with lots of exhibitions and fame, will certainly have an extensive auction sale record, whereas an unknown artist will not.”  I can understand where this person is coming from, but their statement is incorrect.  An artist who has been widely and extensively exhibited can have a strong primary market (galleries etc.) for their work and a virtually non existent secondary market (auctions etc. ) for their work.  In fact, I know of many contemporary artists whose works fetch considerable amounts of money on the primary market but have not had any of their works sold at auction or via any secondary market   Before an artist develops a strong secondary market they usually have to have developed a strong primary market which would mean having their work exhibited by galleries, at fairs and as part of group shows.  What does is utilise primary market data to establish how much attention an artist is receiving.  That primary market attention, if properly leveraged, should then be able to be turned into secondary market attention and increased secondary market value. According to “According to, “The career of an artist depends on the success of their exhibitions”. This is certainly true for the long term career of an artist. Because price data is rarely available for primary market transactions, have developed a ranking system that ranks artists according to how widely and extensively they are being exhibited and how prestigious the galleries/museums they are being exhibited at are.  Although some of the older/deceased artists will be having their work exhibited/sold on the secondary market, much of the data is for emerging contemporary artists whose work is being sold/exhibited on the primary market, and who don’t yet have a secondary market, which gives people the opportunity to use the data the have collected to make predictions regarding the future secondary market potential of an artist and their work. In order to provide some sort of context in which to place the more emerging artists, the Artist Ranking tool includes a large number of modern artists such as Warhol, Picasso, Richter, Nauman etc. who, as one would expect, occupy the top spots of the ranking.  By having the more senior artists to make comparisons with, it is much easier to put the success of the emerging artists into context and see how their career compares to the careers of artists who already have a strong and established secondary market.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with, the first of their Artist Ranking Tool was created in 1999 and has since undergone various adjustments and changes to make it is today.  The concept of ranking artists according to the amount of attention they and their work receives is not a new concept. According to the Getty Museum “Fascinated by the high prices achieved by contemporary (postwar) art, the German art critic Willi Bongard developed a system, known as the Kunstkompass, for ranking artists based on indicators of fame. Using data gathered from museums, commercial art galleries, and art journal reviews, Bongard calculated the success of an artist from year to year and compared it to gallery prices, thus determining the artist’s investment potential.”  The Kunstkompass top 100 contemporary artists continues to be published each year by Germany’s Capital magazine thanks to the efforts of Bongard’s widow, Linde Rohr-Bongard. have taken Bongard’s concept one step further and introduced a recently developed  Career Analyser too which allows subscribers to see how an artist’s career has developed over the years and how their ranking has changed.  According to “The Career Analyser Tool examines an artist’s career in the ranking system from two further perspectives: the position in the ranking and the score for each exhibition – both results are calculated over the years. The last object of the analysis is the “Peer Group”: on the basis of the different ranking careers, we detect the artist’s artistic entourage that is the artists with whom he/she usually exhibits in group exhibitions.” have also developed a separate Auction Analyser Tool in conjunction with which provides a detailed and in depth analysis of an artist’s career in the auction market.

With a total of just under 80,000 ranked artists, there is no shortage of information on so I urge everyone to take the time to check it out and purchase a subscription.  It will be well worth your while

Top 100 Ranking stats:

exhibitors worldwide
exhibitions worldwide
artists biographies
ranked artist
works of art

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

One Response

  1. Nicholas, thanks. Very good overview of what I tried to convey in just a few sentences when responding to the person who expressed initial skepticism of ArtFacts.


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