The 2008/2009 art market ended seven years of astonishing price inflation. By the end of 2008, contemporary art suffered a price decline of 27.1 percent, followed by another 4 percent drop in the first half of 2009, according to ArtPrice's new report, Contemporary Art Market: The ArtPrice Annual Report. A change in auction-house strategy was fundamental to preventing the continuation of the plunge.
From 2002 to 2008, speculation fueled profound growth in the contemporary art market. New auction records were the norm as prices climbed with unprecedented velocity. The high end of the market was particularly active, with the number of pieces selling for more than €1 million surging by 620 percent. Because of that bubble, the contemporary segment was the first to get slammed after the financial market downturn was accelerated by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Before that point, contemporary art had resisted the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis.