There have been countless reports about the booming Korean art market recently. Many attribute this booming art market to an increasing number of collectors under the age of forty. Due to the purchasing power of this young generation, the size of the Korean art auction market is also growing.
In April, the first-quarter performance of ten auction houses had reached 78.53 billion KRW (approximately $64 million), as reported by K-ARTMARKET, a Korean art market information system operated by the Korea Arts Management Services (KAMS). This was the highest first-quarter result since 1998.
Seoul Auction and K Auction, the two leading art auction houses in Korea, have also reported that their first-quarter results have significantly increased.
The combined sales of the two companies in the first quarter were 32.52 billion KRW (approximately $25.7 million), up 42.5% from the same period in the previous year, which was 22.81 billion KRW. The combined art sales reached 18.22 billion KRW ($14.5 million).
Seoul Auction recorded 42.35 billion KRW in the art auction results, and K Auction recorded 26.7 billion KRW, up 74.2% and 19.2% from the same period in the previous year, respectively.
Seoul Auction went ahead in total sales results, recording 21.63 billion KRW, up 23.9% from the same period last year, while its operating profit soared 104.9% to 6.59 billion KRW.
K Auction’s total sales in the first quarter were 10.89 billion KRW, up 102.8% from the same period last year, and its operating profit was 3.45 billion KRW, up 51.4%.
Market players mentioned that, while the sales of Dansaekhwa artworks were strong from 2014 to 2017, the recent auction sales had been diversified with trendier artworks by international artists under 100 million KRW, which better suits the tastes of young collectors.
The two auction houses have also been actively expanding their business through new projects to attract young collectors. Subsidiaries of both auction houses have been jumping into the fractional investment industry and working with other companies to develop NFT (non-fungible token) art platforms.