The following article appears in The Agency’s Second Quarter 2013 Agency Report.

The contemporary art market is booming right now, with some huge sales at international art fairs and auctions in the last quarter. In June, the 44th edition of Art Basel featured roughly $2 billion worth of art for sale and a celebrity cast of both artists and buyers.

Landau Fine Art, a gallery out of Montreal, sold a surrealist oil painting by Rene Magritte, “Un peu de lâme des bandits” (1960), in the region of the $12.5-million asking price. Zürich’s Thomas Ammann Fine Art made a major sale with Brice Marden’s “Attendant 4 (monk)” (1996-99), a curvy red-and-green abstraction in oil on linen that went for around the $9-million asking price.

The Helly Nahmad Gallery quickly parted with two $2.5 million Lucio Fontana canvases and a $12 million Calder mobile (“sumac” – 1961). These highlights are in addition to a whirlwind of sales across all levels that had gallery owners up all night writing invoices.

Recent auctions also point to the growing trend of wealthy investors choosing art as their asset of choice. In June, the Corcoran Gallery of Art auctioned a Persian rug that was expected to go for $10 to $15 million. Instead, it surprised everyone at Corcoran and Sotheby’s (who handled the auction), by selling for a whopping $33.7 million—by far the highest price ever paid for a rug (the previous record was $9.6 million).

In May, Christie’s sale of post-war and contemporary art blew apart previous records, selling 66 pieces for $495 million. This marked their largest overall auction in a single night. in an indicative coup, Jackson Pollock’s “No. 19, 1948” (photo, at left) drip painting broke the artist’s previous sales record, going for $58.3 million (when the same piece was at auction in 1993, it fetched only $2.4 million). Brett Gorvy, of Christie’s, called it “a new era in the art market.” Twelve artists sold pieces for record highs.


The Agency has released the Second Quarter 2013 Agency Report, which shows the robust momentum of the luxury market continues in Los Angeles. A record 920 prime single-family home closings took place in the second quarter, according to the report. This represents a return to peak levels reached in 2005, when 927 closings were reported.

Download the full report here.