Artprice: Top 20 Photographers by 2018 Auction Turnover

In its series of art market rankings designed to highlight some of its key trends, this week, artprice take a look at the photography market at auction. 

thierry Ehrmann: ‘The photography market represents just 1.7% of global Fine Art auction turnover, and 3% of the total number of Fine Art lots sold. But it has very interesting specificities that distinguish it from other Fine Art segments, starting with the fact that it is strongly dominated by Contemporary Art. Somewhat unusually, the figurehead of this market is, this year again, a woman, and an artist at the height of her art… Cindy Sherman‘.

     (Logo: )

     (Photo: )

1. Cindy Sherman (1954) – United States 

With 18 lots already auctioned above the $1 million threshold, Cindy Sherman is one of the three unmissable artists in today”s photography market. The prices of her photos have been gradually rising since 2012 and her market is particularly liquid with more than 60 photographs selling at auction per year and an unsold rate of just 20%.

2. Richard Prince (1949) – US  

3. Andreas Gursky (1955) – Germany  

4. Wolfgang Tillmans (1968) – Germany

Single edition photographs from Tillmans” series Freischwimmer Einzelgänger and Greifber have been hugely successful over the last two years in auction rooms and now fetch over $600,000. Yet more than 60% of his photos still sell for under $50,000 at auction. Wolfgang Tillmans was discovered by the general public in 2000 after winning the Turner Prize. In 2017, he was offered a retrospective at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel.

5. Irving Penn (1917-2009) – United States  

6. Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) – United States  

7. Hiroshi Sugimoto (1948) – Japan  

While the United States largely dominates the photography market, Germany, Japan and France are still very attached to this medium. Hiroshi Sugimoto has been the most successful Japanese photographer on the secondary market for the last 15 years. His maritime horizons – photographed all over the planet – form his most accomplished works and the works most appreciated by collectors. His major photos, in five editions, today fetch over $300,000.

8. Richard Avedon (1923-2004) – United States 

9. Ansel Easton Adams (1902-1984) – United States 

10. Diane Arbus (1923-1971) – United States 

11. Helmut Newton (1920-2004) – Germany  

Newton is one of the rare major photographers to have hammered an auction record in 2018. The only known print of Panoramic Nude with Gun, Villa d”Este Como (1989) far exceeded Phillips” estimates in London on 18 May, fetching nearly a million dollars.

12. Peter Beard (1938) – United States  

13. Thomas Ruff (1958) – Germany 

14. Barbara Kruger (1945) – United States  

15. Gerhard Richter (1932) – Germany 

16. Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884) – France 

In 2018 no less than 77 photographs by Gustave Le Gray were auctioned, with a peak price of $225,000. This performance makes Le Gray the most successful 19th century photographer – or, put another way – the photography market”s leading historical figure. However, the prices of his works seem to be contracting. Boats leaving the port of Le Havre (1856-57), which had set a record $1,264,000 on 18 June 2011 at Rouillac (France), was resold for $965,000 on 17 February 2016 at Christie”s in New York.

17. Man Ray (1890-1976) – United States 

The year 2017 gave a substantial boost to Man Ray”s market, notably by setting two successive records for his photographs. First Portrait of a tearful woman (1936) on 17 May 2017 in New York, and then Black and White (1926) on 9 November 2017 in Paris, acquired for $2.2 million and $3.1 million respectively. Although his best works were much rarer in 2018, Man Ray remains a pillar of the photography market.

18. Edward Henry Weston (1886-1958) – United States 

19. László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) – Hungary 

20. Robert Frank (1924) – Switzerland 

After experiencing strong price growth just before the 2008 crisis, the value of Robert Franck”s works has slowly stabilized. The price of his photos are still 2.5 times higher on average than 20 years ago, with results regularly exceeding $100,000.

Copyright ©2019 thierry Ehrmann –

Try our services (free demo):

Subscribe to our services:

About Artprice:  
Artprice is listed on the Eurolist by Euronext Paris, SRD long only and Euroclear: 7478 – Bloomberg: PRC – Reuters: ARTF.

Founded by thierry Ehrmann (see Who”s who certified Biography) (c)

Dicover Artprice in video:

Artprice is the global leader in art price and art index databanks. It has over 30 million indices and auction results covering more than 700,000 artists. Artprice Images® gives unlimited access to the largest Art Market resource in the world: a library of 126 million images or prints of artworks from the year 1700 to the present day, along with comments by Artprice”s art historians.

Artprice permanently enriches its databanks with information from 6,300 auctioneers and it publishes a constant flow of art market trends for the world”s principal news agencies and approximately 7,200 international press publications.

For its 4,500,000 members, Artprice gives access to the world”s leading Standardised Marketplace for buying and selling art. Artprice is preparing its blockchain for the Art Market. It is BPI-labelled (scientific national French label) Artprice”s Global Art Market Annual Report for 2017 published last March 2018:

Artprice is associated with Artron Group the Chinese leader in the Art Market, its solid institutional partner.

About the Artron Group:  
‘Artron Art Group (Artron), a comprehensive cultural industrial group founded in 1993 by Wan jie, is committed to inheriting, enhancing and spreading art value. Based on abundant art data, Artron provides art industry and art fans with professional service and experience of quality products by integrated application of IT, advanced digital science and innovative crafts and materials.

Having produced more than 60,000 books and auction catalogues, Artron is the world”s largest art book printer with a total print volume of 300 million a year. It has more than 3 million professional members in the arts sector and an average of 15 million daily visits, making it the world”s leading art website.’

Artron”s Web:

Artprice”s Contemporary Art Market Annual Report for 2017 – free access at:

Artprice”s press releases:

Artmarket News: & 3.7 million subscribers

Discover the Alchemy and the universe of Artprice, which headquarters are the famous Museum of Contemporary Art, the Abode of Chaos:

The Contemporary Art Museum The Abode of Chaos
3.5 million subscribers

Contact: thierry Ehrmann,

PARIS, February 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ —

[ [