The late Chinese artist Zhang Daqian was the best-selling artist at auction in 2011 while Spanish great Pablo Picasso dropped out of the top three. Chinese artists dominate the top end of the art market. Zhang’s compatriot Qi Bashi was the second top seller and six Chinese artists in all were in the top ten, while Chinese art accounts for 40 percent of sales by value.
“China, which has held the top spot in art auctions since 2010, took two of its star artists to the head of the annual table in 2011,” said the founder of Artprice.
The third place in the Artprice table was taken by American pop art master Andy Warhol, knocking Picasso — who died in 1973 and has been the bestseller in 13 of the past 14 years — back into fourth place.
Zhang, who lived between 1899 and 1983, was not only top in sales but he had the best annual haul of any artist ever with 1,371 pieces going for a total of $554 million.
Qi, who lived between 1864 and 1957, came in behind, netting art investors $510 million and Warhol hit $325 million.