Is It 2008 in the Art Market Again?

Scott Reyburn has done some great reporting in the advance of this week’s sales in London. Following Christie’s CEO Steve Murphy’s strong statement aligning his company’s 2011 results with investment buyers, we read about a number of new buyers chasing return.

These are worrisome trends. Late buyers chasing news reports of past deal-making is a good sign of an unstable market. The last time we saw this kind of behavior, it was the Summer of 2008 and one of the art advisors quoted below bought a Monet Nymphéas for $80m:

  • “A lot of new money has come into the market in the last six months,” Michael McGinnis, Phillips’s head of contemporary art, said in an interview. “In October, a client we’d never met before saw a work on view at Claridge’s and then went on to buy it in New York in November for more than $5 million.”
  • “Since the Tate retrospective, the Richter market has gone up 40 percent,” the New York-based dealer Christophe Van de Weghe said in an interview.
  • “People see the headlines in newspapers after the auctions and think, ‘I want to get in on this,’” the London-based art adviser, Tania Buckrell Pos, said. “A lot more buyers with an investment point of view are coming into the market.”

Rothko Boosts $611 Million Auctions as Price Rises Lure Sellers (Bloomberg)