ArtNews is out with it’s Top 200 list. There are few surprises (look for yourself) but the accompanying commentary on the state of the market has interesting observations on the causes of the art market’s rapid recovery:
William Ruprecht, Sotheby’s CEO, said, “As things get better, people with wealth come back into the art market and it gets better faster than the overall economy. And when things deteriorate, our business deteriorates even faster than the global economy. It’s faster on the way up and faster on the way down.”
Auction houses see things differently than galleries, according to Michael Findlay, director of Acquavella Galleries in New York.
“They have a few nights a year for their major auctions,” he said. “We have people who are looking and shopping and buying and we are buying and selling all year. The auctions represent a tip of the art market visible to the press and the public. We are aware of a surge and an ebb, but it’s not as high a contrast as the way auction houses see it, because our businesses are different. It all depends on the material. It’s the same market—things are getting better, but we just look at it in a different way.”
Howard Read, co-owner of Cheim & Read gallery, said, “We’ve come out of the lowest point. There’s more activity not only in lower-priced works of up to $50,000 but also in seven-figure works.”
“China continues to be unbelievably important,” said Ruprecht. “The growth in wealth and interest in art in many categories is quite remarkable. They have become very active all over— in Hong Kong, New York, Paris, London. They’re buying art, houses, diversifying their assets.” […]
What are the impulses today? Findlay, who has sold works to many of the ARTnews 200 and the Top Ten, said, “There’s a love of art, a desire for social prestige, and a hankering for investments. They may go in with a mercenary gleam in their eye but wind up loving art. Connoisseurship sometimes follows.”