Phillip Hoffman is a go-to source for the art press. Always ready to talk his book, he’s particularly bullish at ArtBasel 42 this week. He crowed to Judd Tully:
“I’m amazed at the amount of money being made here today,” enthused London-based Fine Art Fund chief executive Philip Hoffman, buttonholed on the escalator up to the second floor expanse of primary-market galleries. “It’s a very strong market,” enthused the money manager, whose art fund is also profiting at the fair, with a number of works on consignment at several galleries here. According to Hoffman, “We’re getting returns of 50 to 80 percent profit from works we bought in 2008, 2009, and even 2010 and that we’ve consigned here.”
Those returns sound fantastic until you see the gross dollars behind them. Hoffman is the first to tell people that the art market has a lot of trouble absorbing all the investment money that is eager to be put to work. As an example, those returns are against $8.2m in gross sales. Even 100% returns will generate no more than $4m for Hoffman’s investors and less than $1m for the Fine Art Fund itself.
Nonetheless, the solid profit is has Hoffman in a confident mood when he spoke to Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn:
“This year’s Art Basel reminds me of the boom,” said Philip Hoffman, chief executive of the London-based Fine Art Fund, which sold four pieces priced at more than 5 million pounds ($8.2 million) through exhibiting dealers. “Wealthy people are looking to art as a hedge against recession. And they’re being better advised than they were in 2007. Then I saw some idiots buying anything.”