Georgina Adam returns from her Summer holidays with an important survey of art market economists responding to the question: If the financial markets continue to swoon or crash, what will be the fate of the all-important Autumn art sales?
Adam quotes Christie’s Francis Outred saying that the Frieze sale he’s putting together right now is of a higher value than 2010, which was in turn of a value closer to 2007—a peak year in the market. Can it last, Adam asks?
The key element in this supply-driven market is confidence, says art economist Clare McAndrew. “If markets are shaky overall, then owners may hold off selling, so this impacts on results.” She also points out that the art market is not one market, but a series of sub-markets that may perform very differently: contemporary art has been the most linked to stock markets, but more traditional sectors have seen less correlation.
Rachel Campbell, assistant professor of finance at Maastricht University, says that when markets rise, the art market rises as quickly, but in a downturn falls more slowly because art is less liquid and owners have to wait for a suitable sale to dispose of their works.
So what is likely to happen today? “With uncertainty over inflation, art is seen as a tangible asset, like gold, and this is a big driver of the market,” says Campbell.
McAndrew concurs: “People see art as a safe place to put their money,” she says.
The Art Market: Recovery Position (Financial Times)