Artmarket com: The three best-selling artists in the world

The three most “popular” artists on the art market, that is to say those whose supply and demand are the most intense, all have prolific productions to their credit. The volumes produced during their careers feed a market whose appetite for their essential signatures never seems to dry up. Overview of the markets for works created by Picasso, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.

Picasso: an average of 10 works per day…

Andy WARHOL has produced tens of thousands of works in a wide variety of media. Among these, many prints were published in more or less important editions, sometimes with more than one hundred copies. Picasso therefore left behind him such an astronomical legacy that when he died, the auctioneer Maurice Rheims inventoried no less than 120,000 works…

Picasso being Picasso, one of the most iconic and desirable artists in the history of art, he is undeniably one of the most expensive artists on the market. But it is by no means the rarest. In fact, quite the opposite: over the past 40 years, almost 80,000 of his works have been sold at auction, including 3,462 lots sold in 2021 alone. This represents nearly 10 jobs per day, which certainly reduces the phenomenon to a somewhat artificial daily average, but nevertheless clearly illustrates its magnitude.

And while Pablo Picasso’s signature remains a massive driver of the world’s most prestigious auctions – with 52 works at over $10 million each in 2021 – it’s also quite affordable for a wide range of collectors, since 43% of his works sell for less than $5,000 on the auction market, mainly thanks to the many existing prints.


Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973)

3,462 lots sold

Best result in 2021: $103.4 million


Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

2,387 lots sold

Best result in 2021: $10.7 million


Andy WARHOL (1928-1987)

1,591 lots sold

Best result in 2021: $47.3 million


Dali: a historically high volume of transactions…

The scenario is not so different in the case of the extravagant Salvador DALI, whose market is far from exhausted. On the contrary, it reached a historical record with more than 2,300 lots sold last year, four times more than in the early 2000s. And if the most sought-after works by Dali can bring in more than 15 million dollars , the vast majority is accessible, via a multitude of prints, which represent 87% of the Dali lots sold under the 5,000 dollar mark.

A market to be handled with care, however, because it is common knowledge that Dali signed a multitude of blank sheets which were then adorned with drawings or lithographs. Thousands of “false” prints would thus be in circulation, to such an extent that enthusiasts favor plates prior to the 1980s, or even 1960s, to guarantee their originality.

Salvador Dali: lots sold at auction since 2000 (copyright

Warhol: the manufacturing machine…

After having set up a real factory to produce his works, Andy WARHOL’s Factory appropriates the silkscreen reproduction technique to repeat images representative of his time, from commercial products to celebrities. Wishing to get as close as possible to mechanical production, legitimizing mass production as a creative process, Warhol initiated a massive production that became one of the most sought-after works on the art market.

Three-quarters of his works sold at auction are prints, including signed lithographs alongside popular historical plates. While the best ones (signed and numbered during Warhol’s lifetime) soar to seven-figure results, several hundred plates are traded each year for less than $5,000, representing 44% of Warhol transactions in 2021.

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