Richter and Koons: the most valuable living artists

It's official. Gerhard Richter and Jeff Koons are the most valuable living artists.

That's according to fresh research from the artnet Auction Price Database, which published its "top 100 living artists" list last month.

Jeff Koons' balloon-like sculptures are hugely popular

Taking data from 2011 to 2016, the study found Richter's work had sold for a total $1.2bn across 1,418 lots. The 84-year-old German artist has changed his style throughout his career, yet it is his monumental Abstraktes Bild colour splashes that achieve the biggest prices today.

Jeff Koons' 721 - often curvaceous - pieces made $438m.

Christopher Wool was in third, the US artist's stencilled letter works having sold for a total $378m across 255 lots.

Yet it's not just those at the top of the list causing excitement. Artnet comments: "The most notable news is the debut of Bruce Nauman, who entered the roster with a bullet at #70 following news of a retrospective at Basel's Schaulager and New York's Museum of Modern Art in 2018.

"Among other newcomers are Chung Sang-Hwa (#78) and Wang Huaiqing (#89)."

Five female artists also make the top 100: Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, Vija Celmins, Julie Mehretu and Cady Noland. It's evidence of the slow but growing acceptance of female artists among collectors.

Koons holds the living artist record for a single piece of art at auction. His Orange Balloon Dog sculpture made $58.4m at Christie's in 2013.

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