The top-selling British artists in 2021


Continuing our series on top-selling artists at auction by nationality, this week Artprice looks at the year’s 10 best auction results for British artists (all creative periods combined). Peter Doig, Francis Bacon, Banksy, Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Hurvin Anderson share the British Top 10 with a clear lead from Peter Doig, who generated the best result, and a solid recurrence of Banksy’s signature which elicited four of the year’s Top 10 auction results for British artists.

Peter Doig beats Francis Bacon

The most historically valued British artist on the auction market, Francis BACON, has – this year – been dethroned by Peter Doig with a new record of just under $40 million.

Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Peter DOIG emerged on the international scene in the early 1990s, notably after a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1991. In the early 2000s, he was a key figure in the major revival of Contemporary painting that began to influence a whole new generation of artists. Represented by the Victoria Miro Gallery, the artist’s work has found its way into some of the world’s best art collections and his auction prices are still rising.

Since 2000, his price index has shown phenomenal growth, up +1,554%. This means that $100 invested in 2000 in one of his paintings is worth an average of $1,654 today. This year, his auction record added $11 million, from $28.8 million for Rosedale (Phillips, 2017) to $39.8 million for Swamped Whitenoise (Christie’s).

Painted in 1990, Swamped marked a turning point in Doig’s career, just before his graduation from Chelsea College of Art and Design and his reception of the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize. Above all, the painting represents his largest work in his series of canoe paintings, considered his most interesting theme and indeed the pinnacle of his work.


Peter Doig’s price index since 2001 (Copyright


In fact, the very same painting has set a world record every time it has appeared at auction. In 2002, it sold for $455,000 at Sotheby’s London, and then for $25.9 million in 2015 at Christie’s New York, a new record at the time. Between these two sales, Peter Doig’s work was extremely well received at the Saatchi gallery (The Triumph of Painting in 2005), as well as at London’s Tate Modern in 2008, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (2008) and at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt (2009).

Fetching $39.8 million on 9 November at Christie’s New York, Swamped added nearly $14 million to its previous sale price just six years ago. This new summit confirms him – once again – as an “icon” of our time, a ‘must’ in Contemporary painting.

Banksy dominates the market for British art

At 47 (presumed age…), BANKSY has long been an international superstar, admired as much by the street art community as by art market professionals… and by more than 11 million followers on Instagram.

One of the most collected artists in the world Banksy is regularly ranked among the world’s top-selling artists, a status that relies heavily on his exceptional ability to satisfy demand at all price levels, from the most affordable to the most ‘prestigious’. With over 1,140 works sold during 2021, four new auction records (including an all-time high at $25.4 million : Love is in the Bin) and an annual turnover exceeding $203 million, Banksy has risen considerably in our global annual turnover ranking (still provisional). As things stand today, he’s in 7th place, between, Vincent Van Gogh and Cy Twombly!


His four new records are in the year’s Top 10 auction results for British artists:

  • Love is in the Bin, $25.4 million, Sotheby’s London, 10/14/2021
  • Game Changer, $23.2 million, Christie’s London, 23/03/2021
  • Sunflowers from Petrol Station, $14.5 million, Christie’s New York, 11/09/2021
  • Love is in the Air, $12.9 million, Sotheby’s New York, 12/05/2021

Banksy’s turnover jumped in 2021 (Copyright


A Hurvin Anderson for the price of a David Hockney…

David HOCKNEY will be absent from this year’s Global Top 10 (by annual turnover). But he was in the three previous ones, notably thanks to a record of more than $90 million obtained in 2018 for Portrait of an Artist at Christie’s. But the auction houses have not found sufficiently important works this year to repeat the experience. Only one painting – A Neat Lawn (1967) exceeded 10 million. The highlight of Phillips’ New York sale on June 26, its price rose by 1,780% in 33 years.


Price evolution of David Hockney’s A Neat Lawn:

  • $585,000, Sotheby’s London, 1 December 1988
  • $3.6 million, Christie’s New York, 9 May 2006 (+515%)
  • $11 million, Phillips New York, 23 June 2021 (+205%)


Meanwhile… the 56 year-old British artist Hurvin ANDERSON born to parents of Jamaican origin elicited a spectacular new record. in October his canvas Audition dwarfed Christie’s estimates (between $1 – $2 million) to reach $10.1 million. This result not only raised the artist’s auction record by $6.7 million (with a final price pretty close to David Hockney’s best result of the year), it also looks like a decisive moment in the evolution of Hurvin Anderson’s prices. In issue 223 of Frieze magazine, published last month, he was interviewed, in duo, alongside Peter Doig, the most in-demand British painter of the moment … his ascension looks set to continue.