Art Market Reports

Skate’s Art Fairs Report, Summer 2015

Q2 Art Fairs Attendance Jumps by 8.8%, Galleries Participation by 1.4%

Art Cologne is Model of Transparency; Art Basel Dominates Offline & Online


In calendar Q2 2015, about 0.5 million1 art lovers visited 15 major art fairs tracked by Skate’s, a healthy 8.8% increase in visitor traffic versus Q2 2014. The total number of exhibitors grew by 1.4% to 1,8522. No art fairs disclosed decline in visitors, though three shows have failed to publish their 2015 attendance numbers so far, and one published identical numbers to those from 2014. Four art fairs reported decline in number of attending galleries, Art Cologne experiencing the largest drop (12 galleries, or 5.4% of the 2014 level) but presented it in its public disclosure as a well-planned and intentional move.

Masterpiece in London, Frieze New York, and Liste Basel (a satellite fair of Art Basel, in its 20th edition this year) reported the biggest visitor increases, and Spring Masters topped everyone with increase in gallery attendance, albeit from a low base and largely because its first edition under new management was hastily assembled in 2014, making this year’s fair the first to be properly organized by a new team.

Exhibit 1
Art Fairs in Calendar Q2, 2015
Art Fair
Number of Visitors
Number of Galleries
Art BaselJune 18 - 2192,00098,0006.52%2712844.80%
Arte BA, Buenos AiresJune 3 - 777,00080,0003.90%81810.00%
Art CologneApril 16 - 1955,00056,0001.82%221209-5.43%
Frieze New YorkMay 14 - 1737,00040,0008.11%1921983.13%
Masterpiece LondonJune 25 - July 135,00040,00014.29%153*1593.92%
Art BrusselsApril 25 - 2730,00030,8362.79%1901910.53%
Design Miami / BaselJune 17 - 2126,60028,2006.02%52531.92%
sp-arteApril 09 - 1222,00023,0004.55%1371402.19%
Paris Photo/LAMay 1 - 316,00016,0000.00%8178-3.70%
Liste Basel*June 16 - 2113,00014,0007.69%78791.28%
Volta BaselJune 15 - 2010,00012,50025.00%7069-1.43%
Dallas Art FairApril 9 - 12n.a.n.a.n.a.92953.26%
LOOP BARCELONAMay 28 - June 6n.a.5,000First yearn.a.45First year
Spring Masters NYMay 6 - 9n.a.10,000n.a.516119.61%
Affordable Art Fair LondonJune 10 - 14n.a.n.a.n.a.113110-2.65%
(change is on like for like basis)

* Fact checking request remains outstanding.
Source: Skate’s.

Here are a few noteworthy data points for Q2 art fairs calendar:


  • Art Basel was exceptionally strong this June with 6% and 5% growth respectively for visitors and galleries, already from the super-high base.
  • Exhibit 2
    Share Price of MCH Group (Art Basel owner and operator) versus Skate’s Art Stocks Index and Swiss Stock Index (2015, Year to Date)


    Source: Skate’s.


  • As reported in Skate’s Facebook Art Lovers Audience Report, ARTEBA is doing magic for the Argentinian art-market scene, delivering the world’s highest visitor traffic per participating gallery (988 visitors per exhibiting gallery). We also note a very successful matching program introduced by ARTEBA to stimulate its museums to purchase at the fair with private matching grants from a local Banco Ciudad.

  • Design Miami/Basel (the show owned by MCH Group, the Art Basel owner) was the second best this quarter in terms of ability to deliver offline traffic, with 532 visitors per booth.

  • London Masterpiece is going from strength to strength; its 6th edition this year delivered the best visitor traffic growth rate among the peers, with 8,900 attending the fair in the first day. While this is what Art Basel gets in the first few hours of general-admission day, the MCH Group that owns Art Basel, and also the world’s largest Basel World watch show, should pay attention. Masterpiece operates in a strategic London market and has been very successful in blending watches, fine art, design, and antiques categories under one roof; its horological collection was the most valuable object sold at Masterpiece fair this June3.
  • Exhibit 3
    Average Visitors per Booth, Q2 2015
    Art Fair
    Visitors per Booth
    1Arte BA, Buenos Aires988
    2Design Miami / Basel532
    3Art Basel345
    4Art Cologne268
    5Masterpiece London252
    6Paris Photo/LA205
    7Frieze New York202
    8Volta Basel181
    9Liste Basel177
    11Spring Masters NY164
    12Art Brussels161
    n.r.Affordable Art Fair Londonn.a.
    n.r.Dallas Art Fairn.a.
    Q2 AVERAGE245

    Source: Skate’s.


  • Art Cologne, Grande Dame of art-fair business4, sets the best standard for the trading disclosure in terms of artworks sold, prices paid, and rates billed to participating galleries (the schedule A to this report includes the list of gallery sales completed at Art Cologne and disclosed by the fair). To sum up all the numbers disclosed and add estimates for works sold (but no prices disclosed), Skate’s estimates Art Cologne’s 2015 edition verifiable on-the-spot turnover to be no less than EUR 15 million, or no less than EUR 72,000 per participating gallery or EUR 269 per attending art fair visitor. This is not bad given that direct participation expenses are made of EUR 400 application fee and EUR 285.9 per square meter of booth rent, bringing all-in attendance costs (lease, transport, insurance, etc.) to an average of about EUR 45,000 per booth. This implies at least 40% gross return on investment in Art Cologne participation for attending galleries. Good stuff!

  • Other art fairs should pay attention to the Art Cologne model transparency. The industry practice so far is to be ultra laconic about numbers disclosure. Frieze, for example, opted to include 14 galleries’ testimonials to how great sales were at its May New York edition in lieu of disclosing any single sale of substance. Spring Masters did the same, offering 13 testimonials and no data.

  • In general, the disclosure level in art fairs business remains opaque; some well-established fairs like Volta Basel and Dallas Art Fair skip publication of any numbers altogether. This makes it even more ironic when their executives boast of record numbers. We are particularly amused with the journalism quality at Artdaily, which ran a story in June titled “Record Attendance at Volta’s Second Consecutive Year at Markthalle in Basel’s City Center,” quoting Volta management but failing to report a single data point for attendance numbers5.

Art Fairs at Social Networks

In this report Skate’s also takes a closer look at social marketing league table of international art fairs. Skate’s considers Facebook and Instagram to be the most suitable social networks for art fairs business (superior even to web sites given lack of dynamic year-round content for web and twitter platforms that need such content to be efficient marketing tools) and rated the top 12 art fairs on each platform in the Exhibits 4 and 5, below. Our key takeaways:


  • Art Basel’s dominance is striking.

  • Latin American art fairs and Art Dubai are very clever with the use of social media, building large audiences on social networks that are disproportionate to their offline traffic numbers and importance in the global art fairs calendar.

  • Merchandise Mart fairs (Armory and Volta) failed completely on Facebook; TEFAF and Frieze totally missed the boat on Instagram; and noble Art Cologne lost on social networks marketing altogether (trying to fix it now with Artsy partnership instead).
Exhibit 4
Top 12 Art Fairs by Facebook Audience
Art Fair
Facebook Audience6
1Art Basel330,895
3Paris Photo/Paris81,883
5Arte BA, Buenos Aires77,170
7Art Dubai68,989
8ZONA MACO, Mexico City48,920
10Arco Madrid35,110
11Frieze London34,923
12Frieze New York29,732

Source: Skate’s.

Exhibit 5
Top 12 Art Fairs by Instagram Audience
Art Fair
Instagram Audience7
1Art Basel178,600
2Design Miami27,300
3Art Dubai18,000
4Armory Show (New York)14,600
5ZONA MACO, Mexico City14,000
6Contemporary Istanbul11,500
8Paris Photo/Paris10,800
10Pulse Miami6,752
11Arco Madrid5,608
12Volta New York4,200

Source: Skate’s.

For more information about 80 international art fairs including complete statistics on offline and online attendance and exhibitors data please contact us at


1. Our tally of 441,036 excludes visitor numbers for Volta, Affordable Art Fair Hampstead (London) and Dallas Art Fair that have failed to publish their 2015 attendance numbers so far, collectively estimated at 50,000 in 2015 for three fairs, thus bringing the total attendance in Q2 to 491k visitors for 15 art fairs.
2. Changes are calculated on like-for-like sampling of art fairs held in Q2 of 2014 and Q2 2015.
3. Scott horological collection was the highest value object sold at Masterpiece, with Carter Marsh & Co selling over GBP 8.5 million worth of clocks including GBP 4.5million for the Medici Tompion. Source:
4. Art Cologne is the world’s oldest art fair still in operation that held its 49th edition this year.
5. For more read at
6. As of May 1, 2015.
7. As of May 1, 2015.

Schedule A
ART COLOGNE 2015: Summary of sales reported

* Several works of the Hungarian conceptual artist Endre Tót sold

Galerie Klaus Benden
* Andy Warhol “Mona Lisa (four times)” silkscreen print, 1979, (4.4 million US dollars)
* Roy Lichtenstein “Brushstroke”, 1968, (85,000 Euro)
* Tom Wesselmann “Big Blonde”, drawing, (75,000 Euro)

Blain I Southern
* Sculptures of Lynn Chadwick to an amount of around 60,000 pounds
* Two large format fabric works by Aboulaye Konaté at 25,000 Euro each

Bischoff Projects (NEW CONTEMPORARIES)
* Works sold to the Federal Collection of Contemporary Art and a large photo by Ryan McGinley for 14,000 US dollars

Galerie Daniel Buchholz
* “Schauspieler (Actor)” sculpture by Isa Genzken (180,000 Euro)
* Spray work on aluminium by Isa Genzken (150,000 Euro)
* Works of the Wolfgang Hahn Prizewinner Michael Krebber for 50,000 and 70,000 Euro

Contemporary Fine Arts
* Five large format mixed technique works by Borden Capalino for 20,000 Euro each

* Honza Zamojski 4-part edition (14,000 Euro)

Galerie Eigen + Art
* Among others, Stella Hamberg’s large bronze sculpture “Hund (Dog)” sold for 140.000 Euro

Galerie Konrad Fischer
* Works by Wolfgang Plöger
* Thomas Ruff “Fake-Negatives”

Galerie Henze & Ketterer
* Graphic works and drawings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

* Sale of a large-format work by Sean Scully
* Several other sales

Koenig & Clinton
* All works by Heimo Zobernig sold and small-format oil paintings by Peter Dreher

Galerie Löhrl
* Works by Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, Roman Kochansky and Dieter Nuhr

Galerie Ludorff
* Emil Nolde “Marschlandschaft (Marsh Landscape)”, watercolour
* Work by Gotthard Graubner

Galerie Maulberger
* Six works by Herbert Zangs sold for up to 44,000 Euro
* Nail picture by Günther Uecker (280,000 Euro)
* Works by Otto Piene for 78,000 Euro and 57,000 Euro

Galerie Hans Mayer
* Robert Longo, untitled (Tiger), graphite on paper, bindingly reserved for 900,000 US dollars

Galerie Nagel Draxler
* Painting by Heimo Zobernig
* Luca Vitone “Deutscher Bundestag (German Bundestag)” (13,500 Euro)
* Five sculptures by Anna Fasshauer

Neon Parc
* Seven works by Dale Frank sold

Carolina Nitsch
* Several works sold primarily to German and Belgian collectors

David Nolan Gallery
* Richard Artschwager “Interior with Banana” sold to the ‘Friends of ART COLOGNE’ for the Museum Ludwig

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
* Painting by Georg Baselitz (400,000 Euro)
* Sculptures by Anthony Gormley for 350,000 and 155,000 pounds
* Robert Longo charcoal drawing, untitled (Jet Fighter) (425,000 US dollars)
* Sculpture by Richard Deacon (110,000 pounds)

Galerie Samuelis Baumgarte
* Several works by Heinz Mack and Bernard Schultze sold
* Several canvasses by Cornelius Quabeck in higher 5 digit range
* Reservation for a painting by Fernando Botero

Galerie Schlichtenmaier
* rosalie, kinetic light object (46,000 Euro)
* Canvas by Winfred Gaul sold to the ‘Friends of ART COLOGNE’ for the Museum Ludwig
* Two additional signal works by Winfred Gaul
* Tin sculpture by Brigitte and Martin Matschinsky-Denninghoff
* Works by Peter Brüning and Karl Fred Dahmen

Galerie Sies + Höke
* Works on canvas by Henning Strassburger for 10,000 and 12,000 Euro
* All light objects by Björn Dahlem for between 10,000 Euro and 30.000 Euro

Galerie Utermann
* Sculpture by Karl Hartung “Flügelform (Wing Shape)” from the 1950s (180,000 Euro)
* Works on canvas by Christian Rohlfs and Horst Antes

Galerie von Vertes
* Work on canvas by Marino Marini (285,000 Euro)
* Sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, reserved for a museum

Galerie Axel Vervoordt
* Works by Heinz Mack from the 1960s sold to an American collection
* Artists of the Gutai movement sold to a Belgian collection
* Work by Raimund Girke sold to a young New York collection

Galerie Edith Wahlandt
* Ernst Hermanns 3-part room work (WV 310) (240,000 Euro)
* Norbert Kricke sculpture “Gelb – Weiß – Schwarz (Yellow – White – Black)” (180,000 Euro)
* Successes with younger artists like Katharina Hinsberg

Galerie David Zwirner
* Photogram by Thomas Ruff (100,000 Euro)
* Work on canvas by Oscar Murillo (250,000 Euro)
* Works by Wolfgang Tillmans and Konrad Klapheck