The art market is booming fuelled by rocketing prices for contemporary art with work by street artists like Banksy among the fast sellers, according to a new report Wednesday.

Four of the top 10 most sold artists at auction houses across the world over the last year were street artists — Americans Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, Kaws and British-born Banksy.

Last year only Haring — who died in 1990 — made the list.

“Vibrant, non-elitist and attractive to the mass media, street art is seducing an increasing number of collectors,” Artprice said in its annual report.

“Whether on bits of fencing or traditional canvases, works are changing hands just as much on the social networks as in galleries and auction rooms,” it said.

Haring’s work notched up sales of near $34 million (29 million euros) over the last 12 months with works by Banksy and Kaws changing hands for around $6 million.

Fairey, best known for his “Obey” and Barack Obama “Hope” murals, watched his work sell for nearly $1 million.

– ‘Art in tune with times’ –

Artprice said that the “strong demand concerns a whole new generation of artists” which suggests “a clear trend among collectors and positions street art as one of the most dynamic sub-segments of today’s contemporary art market”.

It said the Brazilian graffiti artists Osgemeos (brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo) “are growing in stature” setting a new record of $310,000 in New York while New Jersey-born Kaws is increasingly generating six-digit results.

“The commercial successes reward an art in tune with its time, whose pioneers, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, were graffiti artists in the New York subway before being acquired by major art collections,” the report added.

Indeed Basquiat set a new world record for contemporary art in May when Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa paid $110.5 million for one of his skull canvases, “Untitled”.

The sale put Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose aged 27, into the tiny club of artists whose works have sold at auction for more than $100 million after Modigliani, Bacon, Giacometti, Munch and Warhol.

He is also the “biggest” contemporary artist on the art market, with his work fetching $313.5 million at auction last year, Artprice said. Read more