The hot-young-artists league table
Many thanks to Amy King at Artnet, who put this league table together for me, showing the artists who have grossed the most money at auction before their 30th birthday. (Technically, it’s total auction revenue up to and including the full year in which they turn 30.)
|Name||Nationality||Birth year||Auction revenue by 30th birthday|
|Choi So Young||Korean||1980||$2,103,046|
In first place, and vastly ahead of anybody else, is Jean-Michel Basquiat, who of course died in 1988 at the age of 27. The overwhelming majority of his $16.6 million was posthumous: $15.3 million came in 1989 and 1990. And dying young is not a career strategy I’d necessarily recommend to any artist.
Basquiat aside, there’s an impressively Asian tinge to this list, with 5 of the other 9 artists coming from China, Korea, or Japan. Notably, the appositely-named Choi So Young saw more than $2 million of her work sold at auction before she was 30 — an achievement which, historically, neither female artists nor Korean artists would ever dream of.
This does not mean that Asian artists have more success at a younger age than their US and European counterparts; it probably just means that hot young US and European artists have galleries which are better at keeping close tabs on their work and preventing it from coming up for auction. But still, it’s a glimpse at just how incredibly successful young artists can be, these days.