There doesn’t seem to be much movement on ArtNews’s Top 200 collectors list but the editors say the market has gone from wild to mild to something strong but not too strong:
“You have a ton of people with a lot of money and they’re buying trophy art,” said one consultant. What’s trophy art? “Iconic examples by modern and contemporary masters. Warhol and Picasso are the leaders and they’re getting stronger. So are Bacon and Rothko.”
“The tide has changed,” said Neal Meltzer, a private dealer and former head of contemporary art at Christie’s. “The contemporary market has replaced Impressionism and the modern market as the leading collecting field.”
Martin Summers, a London dealer, describes trophy art as works with “the recognizability factor.”
The consensus seems to be that sellers have high expectations and that buyers have become more discerning. “The base is broader as new people keep coming into the market,” said Lucy Mitchell-Innes, president of Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in New York and president of the Art Dealers Association of America.
“The global appetite is increasing for great works of art but the supply is radically limited,” said Simon Shaw, head of Impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s.
Others are calling the market “strong,” “surprisingly strong,” or “solid rather than wild.”