Despite big falls in the art market last year, where some prices fell by 40%, the last two years has never been so good for some artists and the owners of their works, according to Artprice, a research provider.
Top place went to Damien Hirst, whose works sold for a total of €134.7m between June 2008 and June 2009, according to the latest data from Artprice.
Second was the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, a US painter of African descent whose work raised a total of €31.7m in auctions over the last two years. His top hammer price was for 'Boxer', which sold for €10.7m at a Christie's auction in New York in November 2008.
Third place went to US artist Richard Prince who achieved auction turnover of €24.2m during the period. His top hammer price was €4.7m paid for "Overseas Nurse", sold at Sotheby's in London in July 2008.
Although Hirst came in at number one, his position was largely swayed by his September 2008 Sotheby’s auction, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever. Since then prices have fallen by more than 40% for his signature spot and butterfly paintings, according to Artprice.
The September sale, which began on the same day that investment bank Lehman Brothers was declared defunct, raised £111m through 218 lots and set a record for a single-artist auction.
Hirst, who last year ranked 238 in last year's Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £235m, sold the two most expensive contemporary works of 2008 at the auction, including The Golden Calf, a calf preserved in formaldehyde, for $18m, and The Kingdom, a tiger shark persevered in formaldehyde, for $17.2m.
Below are the top ten biggest money makers of the art world during the 12 months to June 30 2009, according to Artprice.
1. Damien Hirst (UK) Auction sales turnover: €134.7m Lots sold: 381 Top hammer price: €11.6m
2. Jean-Michel Basquiat (USA) Auction Sales Turnover: €31.7m Lots sold: 47 Top hammer price: €9.4m
3. Richard Prince (USA) Auction sales turnover: €24.2m Lots sold: 61 Maximum auction price: €4.7m
4. Jeff Koons (USA) Auction Sales Turnover: €23m Lots sold: 110 Top hammer price: €3.5m
5. Peter Doig (UK) Auction sales Turnover: €12.2m Lots sold: 41 Top hammer price: €3.1m
6. Fanzhi Zeng (China) Auction sales turnover: €11m Lots sold: 42 Top hammer price: €1m
7. Xiaogang Zhang (China) Auction sales Turnover: €10m Lots sold: 39 Top hammer price: €2.3m
8. Takashi Murakami (Japan) Auction sales Turnover: €8.1m Lots sold: 271 Top hammer price: €2.3m
9. Anish Kapoor (India) Auction Sales Turnover: €6.7m Lots sold: 31 Top hammer price: €2.1m
10. Chen Yifei (China) Auction Sales Turnover: €6.6m Lots sold: 21 Top Hammer Price: €3.8m
7 January 2010 - Tara Loader Wilkinson