Czech art auction market scores record success despite Covid-19

Toyen - ‘La Dame de Pique’, photo: Czech Television

Despite the disappointing figures from the spring auction season, the anti-coronavirus measures did not affect the Czech Republic’s art market as much as experts predicted, the Czech News Agency reported this week.

To buy the ten most expensive paintings sold in auctions this year, a potential bidder would need CZK 340 million. That is three million crowns more than last year and represents a record-high sum for Czech auctions.

Jan Skřivánek from the magazine ArtPlus predicts that after the autumn part of the auction season, the drop in turnover will be around 25 percent on the previous year.

After the spring season, the situation on the Czech art auction market didn’t look very promising. Measures against the spread of coronavirus led to the cancellation or postponement of a number of auctions.

During the first five months of 2020, art collectors and investors had spent CZK 90 million on art auctions. That was a drop by CZK 470 million, or 84 percent, on the same period last year.

Last year, collectors and investors spent CZK 1.405 billion at domestic art auctions. That was CZK 14 million, or one percentage point less, than in the record year of 2017. The three most successful years at the Czech art auction market so far were 2016, 2017 and 2019.

The second wave of coronavirus did not hit the country’s art auction market as hard as the first one. Most auctions took place over the internet or under strict hygienic conditions.

During the autumn, the local auction record for a work by a Czech painter was broken two times in a row. First at the beginning of October, when the 1926 painting ‘La Dame de Pique’ by the Czech surrealist artist Toyen sold at auction in Prague nearly 3 million euros.

And for the second time at the end of November, when Fratnišek Kupka’s abstract painting Divertimento II from the second half of the 1930s sold for CZK 90.24 million at the Kodl Kupl Gallery auction.

For the first time, the work of a living artist made it on the list of ten most expensive works. Theodor Pištěk’s Adieu, Guy Moll, was auctioned for 25.44 million crowns, becoming the most expensive artwork by a living Czech artist ever sold at auction.

New personal auction records were also set for František Kupka, Toyen, Jan Zrzavý and Theodor Pištěk.