The three best-selling artists in the world


The three most “popular” artists on the art market, i.e. those for whom supply and demand are the most intense, all have prolific productions to their credit. The volumes produced during their careers feed a market whose appetite for their essential signatures never seems to tire. We take a quick look at the markets for works created by Picasso, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol.


Picasso: an average of 10 works per day…

Andy WARHOL produced tens of thousands of works on a wide variety of supports. Among these, numerous prints were published in editions of varying sizes, sometimes with over a hundred copies. Picasso therefore left behind him such an astronomical heritage that at his death, the auctioneer Maurice Rheims inventoried no less than 120,000 works…

Picasso being Picasso, one of the most emblematic and desirable artists in art history, he is inded one of the most expensive artists on the market. But he is by no means the rarest. In fact, quite the contrary: over the past 40 years nearly 80,000 of his works have been auctioned, including 3,462 lots sold in 2021 alone. This represents almost 10 works per day, which admittedly reduces the phenomenon to a somewhat artificial daily average, but nevertheless clearly illustrates its magnitude.

And while Pablo Picasso’s signature remains a massive driver of the most prestigious auctions around the world – with 52 works fetching over 10 million dollars each in 2021 – it is also completely affordable to a vast range of collectors, since 43% of his works sell for under $5,000 on the auction market, mainly thanks to the numerous prints in existence.


Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973)

3,462 lots sold

Best result in 2021: $103.4 million


Salvador DALI (1904-1989)

2,387 lots sold

Best result in 2021: $10.7 million


Andy WARHOL (1928-1987)

1,591 lots sold

Best result in 2021: $47.3 million


Dali: a historically high transaction volume…

The scenario is not that different in the case of the extravagant Salvador DALI, whose market is far from exhausted. On the contrary, it reached a historical record with more than 2,300 lots sold last year, four times more than at the beginning of the 2000s. And while Dali’s most sought-after works can fetch over 15 million dollars, the vast majority are affordable, via a multitude of prints, which representing 87% of the Dali lots sold below the $5,000 threshold.

A market to be handled with care, however, because it is common knowledge that Dali signed a multitude of blank sheets that were subsequently adorned with drawings or lithographs. Thousands of “false” prints are therefore said to be in circulation, so much so that enthusiasts favor plates prior to the 1980s, or even the 1960s, to guarantee their originality.


Salvador Dali: lots sold at auction since 2000 (copyright

Warhol: the production machine…

Having set up a veritable factory to produce his works, Andy WARHOL‘s Factory appropriated the silkscreen reproduction technique to repeat representative images of his time, from commercial products to celebrities. Wishing to get as close as possible to mechanical production, legitimizing mass production as a creative process, Warhol initiated a massive production that has become one of the most sought-after oeuvres on the art market.

Three-quarters of his works sold at auction are prints, including signed lithographs alongside historical plates, which are very highly valued. While the best (signed and numbered during Warhols lifetime) soar to seven-figure results, several hundred plates are exchanged each year for less than $5,000, accounting for 44% of the Warhol transactions in 2021.