FUTURES: Robert Nava’s Quick Turnaround

Nava’s creatures find themselves in secondary market sales shortly after creation.

Cara Blumstein

Tue, Apr 12, 2022

Robert Nava, Watcher Lava Walk, 2022

Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based artist Robert Nava has seen steady momentum on the secondary market since his mid-pandemic auction debut in July of 2020. Collectors love his imaginative mixed-media creatures. The fantasy animals first showed up at NADA Miami and at the Dallas Art Fair displayed at Los Angeles’s Night Gallery, where he also had a 2019 solo exhibition. In early 2020, the Art Institute of Chicago acquired four works on paper by Nava. Somewhat paradoxically, this launched his work into the auction sphere.

To chart this meteoric rise, let's dive into LiveArt’s historical pricing data. Nava made three six-figure results in his first auction season. His debut lot was The Tunnel. It sold in 2019 for $162,000 at Phillips in New York. That was quadruple the low estimate. In November of 2020, amidst Nava's slew of impressive first-season results, Pace Gallery announced it would represent the artist. Pace subsequently held two solo exhibitions of Nava’s work in 2021, one in Palm Beach in January and the second in East Hampton in August. Also in 2021, Vito Schnabel Gallery announced its joint representation of Nava. Schnabel held a solo exhibition of Nava’s work in New York that ran February through April. 

Last month, Nava’s Frozen Bark, 2021 sold for more than eight times its low estimate, achieving a price of $651,639 at Sotheby's in London. Nava’s top three prices at auction are all for works created within three (but as little as one) year after they were created. The quick turnaround between the creation of the artworks and their public auction is an increasingly common feature of the market for a certain type of ultra-contemporary art. It illustrates the ongoing hunger for a art market of fantasy in which discoveries are made and prices only ever go up.

View all of Nava’s past sale results for free with LiveArt.