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Romanian art market continues to grow, prices steadier, more private sales in 2012


Romanian auction house Artmark has published a summary of the local art market in 2012 and the growth seen in recent years continued last year. There was an overall growth in the market of around 20 percent and total sales reached EUR 14.6 million, according to Artmark’s figures.

There was also growth in private sales, which were on an equal footing with auction sales last year. In 2010 – 2011, auction sales accounted for around 65 percent of the total.

The most important Romanian artists continued to be a popular investment last year; both with existing collectors and newcomers to the auction scene. Works by the best known Romanian artists are seen as a safe investment and prices raised at auction in 2012 support this premise.

While in 2011, prices paid for pieces by artists such as Nicolae Grigorescu and Nicolae Tonitza leaped up dramatically, in some cases by 50 – 60 percent, in 2012 there was a steadying in the amounts paid. Important examples of Tonitza’s work consistently fetched EUR 150,000 to EUR 200,000 at auction, while pieces by Grigorescu regularly went for between EUR 100,000 and EUR 200,000. The Tonitza painting, In the Bedroom (in picture), still holds the record for the highest price. It sold for EUR 290,000 in 2011.

Some of the best auction results in 2012 were for artworks with starting prices below EUR 1,000. Artmark gives examples that had starting prices of just a few hundred euros but which went on to fetch around EUR 10,000.

Contemporary Romanian art had a “fruitful” year, according to Artmark. Three contemporary and post modern auctions raised around EUR 200,000 each and achieved sale rates of over 80 percent. Among the records set by individual artists were Şerban Savu’s Space, The Final Frontier 2 (EUR 10,000 ), Geta Brănescu’s Cămaşă magică/Magic Shirt, (EUR 7,500 ) and Ion Grigorescu’s Fraţii/Brothers (EUR 7,500 ).

Artmark’s first auction of 2013 is coming up at the end of January. The auction, which will be held in the Hilton Hotel Bucharest, features works by Nicolae Grigorescu and Tonitza. More info here.

Liam Lever, liam@romania-insider.com