Top 10 auction results of Turner Prize winners

[05/08/2010]

Every fortnight Artprice provides you with a new or updated ranking in its Alternate-Friday Top Series. The theme of today’s TOP article is the Top 10 auction results generated by Turner Prize winners.

Since its creation in 1984, the Turner Prize has been awarded to a UK resident artist under 50. While it is not easy to accurately determine the impact of the Turner Prize on the market, it clearly bestows legitimacy to the artist who receives it. This prestigious award, endorsed by the Tate Britain in London, often acts as a powerful lever on the market value of its recipient’s work by precipitating demand.
More than half of the Prize’s winners generated their auction records in 2008 as the contemporary art segment enjoyed spectacular price inflation and they appear to have been vigorously supported by a new generation of collectors who contributed to and participated in a speculative bubble that pushed contemporary art prices up by 50% in just three years. Indeed, the price inflation enjoyed by these artists followed shortly after the Tate Britain organised a first-ever major retrospective of the famous Turner Prize which opened on 2 October 2007 in London.

Top 10: best hammer price by Turner Prize winner

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Damien Hirst (1965) $17 119 160 Lullaby Spring (2002) 06/21/2007 (Sotheby’s London)
2 Antony GORMLEY (1950) $4 026 870 Angel of the North (1997) 07/01/2008 (Sotheby’s London)
3 Anish KAPOOR (1954) $3 428 820 Untitled (2003) 07/01/2008 (Sotheby’s London)
4 GILBERT & GEORGE (1942/43) $3 292 410 « To her Majesty » (1973) 06/30/2008 (Christie’s London)
5 Chris OFILI (1968) $2 486 715 « Orgena » (1998) 06/30/2010 (Christie’s London)
6 Malcolm MORLEY (1931) $847 272 « Cristoforo Colombo » (1965) 02/27/2008 (Sotheby’s London)
7 Rachel WHITEREAD (1963) $757 530 Untitled (2002) 07/01/2008 (Sotheby’s London)
8 Howard HODGKIN (1932) $720 000 House (2005/07) 02/14/2008 (Sotheby’s New York)
9 Keith TYSON (1969) $400 000 Nature Painting (red) (2006) 02/14/2008 (Sotheby’s New York)
10 Tony CRAGG (1949) $210 000 Bent Of Mind (2003) 11/12/2009 (Sotheby’s New York)

Indeed, during 2008, the Turner Prize winners moved collectively into the fast lane of London’s art scene.
In February 2008, the first winner of the prize, Malcolm MORLEY, posted his best-ever auction result at £430,000 ($847,272) with his Cristoforo Colombo at Sotheby’s London. At the time, contemporary art prices were still driving upwards and Morley’s price index gained no less than 163% over the year. Seven years earlier, the same work could have been acquired for just half that price as it was bought in at Sotheby’s against a pre-sale estimate of $400,000.
On 30 June 2008, the British duo GILBERT & GEORGE took a major step up the ladder of the UK art scene with To her Majesty fetching $3.2m at Christie’s, giving them 4th place in this Top 10.
The following day Sotheby’s contemporary art sale in London generated three new auction records for Turner Prize winners: Angel of the North by the 1994 winner, Antony GORMLEY, sold for $4m taking 2nd place in our ranking. With a pre-sale estimate of just £600,000 – £800,000, the piece was not expected to generate a 7-figure result; however, having received an OBE at the end of 1997 for services rendered to sculpture, the artist was fervently coveted by British buyers.
Anish KAPOOR’s Untitled fetched $3.4m, giving the artist 3rd place in our Top 10. Born in India and working in London since the early 70s, Kapoor became one of the world’s 15 most expensive contemporary artists in 2009 with no less than twelve 7-figure results to his name.
The third auction record that day for Turner Prize winners was generated by the 1993 laureate, Rachel WHITEREAD, whose Untitled fetched £380,000 ($757,530) giving her 7th place in our ranking.
Chris OFILI is the only laureate who has set an auction record since the deflation of the market’s speculative bubble. In fact, this year, with the Tate Britain giving him the best exhibition of his career (27 Jan. – 16 May 2010), two of his works have crossed the 1 million dollars threshold for the first time. In February, Through The Grapevine fetched £680,000 at Sotheby’s in London, doubling its pre-sale estimate, and then in June, Orgena went under the hammer for £1.65m at Christie’s. Coincidence? Both pieces date from 1998, the year Chris Ofili won the Turner Prize.

At the top of our ranking is of course the 1995 Turner Prize laureate Damien HIRST who has generated no less that 96 auction results above the $1m line. And yet before 1995, his top sale was just $2,600.
In June 2007 at Sotheby’s in London his installation Lullaby Spring generated $17.1m giving him not only 1st place in this ranking but also the top position for any contemporary artist worldwide.
In February 2008, when Hirst organised his charity sale (RED) with the U2 singer Bono and the Gagosian gallery at Sotheby’s in New York, two of his compatriots, both Turner Prize laureates, set new records Howard HODGKIN’s House fetched $720,000 and Keith TYSON’s Nature Painting (red) sold for $400,000.
Howard Hodgkin’s success has not been limited to auction rooms! Seven years after winning the 1985 Turner Prize, he received a knighthood from the Queen of England and in 2006 he was honoured with a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery in London.
Also in 2006, four years after winning the Turner Prize, Keith Tyson generated his first auction result above $100,000. Since then, seven of his works have sold for 6-figure sums.
At the bottom of our Top 10 is Tony CRAGG whose bronze sculpture Bent of Mind fetched $210,000 on 12 November 2009 at Sotheby’s in New York. Cragg, the 1988 Turner Prize laureate, represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennial of the same year.
He also received the Shakespeare Prize from the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. in 2001 and then the Piepenbrock Prize for sculpture in 2002.

While a number of artists have enjoyed substantial value accretion after winning the highly-publicised Turner Prize, others appear to have missed the auction elevator, even with high media profiles. This is the case for example for Steve MCQUEEN (1999 winner) whose photographs have not fetched more than $4,000 at auctions, but who received a prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 for his cinematic work.