Can Country-Specific Sales Take Up the Slack?
The Economist looks at today’s Greek sale in London and wonders if the trend toward sales that bolster national pride can be sustained in the midst of economic uncertainty:
Since 2001 Sotheby’s has sold £50m ($82.4m) worth of Greek art, and Constantine Frangos, Sotheby’s Greek specialist, explains why: “Seeing them sold on the international market, they feel more confident in their own artists.” A large majority of the bidders at the Greek sales are Greek or of Greek descent; Sotheby’s hopes they spend around £8.5m.
Interest in Greek art has become strong enough to support two London sales early in November, starting with 169 lots at Bonhams and moving on to Sotheby’s 201 lots the next day. But you don’t have to like Greek art to be curious about the outcome. Some markets continue to do well during a downturn, and these sales might show whether dedicated nation sales can buck the trend of falling prices in the Modern and Contemporary departments. [ . . . ]
Darker shadows hang over both sales: the gravy days in the Greek shipping business look to be over. “The current economic climate leaves a big question mark,” says Julian Roup, Bonhams’ spokesman. “We’re still optimistic that markets like this will hold up, but it would be a brave man who made predictions. We’ll have to watch this space.”
Greeks Buying Gifts (The Economist)