In this strange but utterly fascinating press release, Artprice.com makes some bizarre claims about its clients in Qatar. It’s not clear what Artprice hopes to gain by releasing this data. Worse, it isn’t really clear what the data is:
Artprice has notably observed that for more than 18 months, Quatar has been at the origin of an impressive number of search requests on Artprice databases. In effect, it is now clear that Qatar aims to become the global leader in the international museum industry. […] Artprice therefore decided to conduct a thorough investigation, in the context of this study, to explain why and how Qataris conducted so many searches.
While respecting the principle of absolute confidentiality for its many Qatari subscribers that include professional and amateur collectors, Artprice has been able to identify certain parameters that highlight the tremendous “war machine” that is turning Qatar into the new “market maker” of the art market. […] Obviously – respecting the ethical rules of the profession of issuers of primary information source – we can easily understand that Qatar, via its ten museums, Contemporary art centers and foundations, is conducting a faultless strategy involving searching for the best works by well-known artists, and, taking advantage of Artprice’s data to ensure the traceability of the targeted works, and using its very substantial financial resources to bid systematically with a margin that according to our study amounts to about 40 to 45% above “market prices”.
This premium is not unusual because all the targeted works are works of museum quality, and many are key works in the history of art. As such, the 45% premium is no management error… but it is raising the global art market on artists whose works are being acquired substantially above their price index. […]
Anecdotally, we have observed intense searches on artists like Richard Serra, Murakani, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Louis Bourgeois, Rothko and Paul Cézanne.
Hence the purchase of Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players for $250 million, which represents the largest transaction ever recorded on the art market. Concerning this acquisition, based on the data requests launched by Qatari cultural authorities, Artprice can confirm 99% that this transaction has taken place. Amongst its professionals subscribers Artprice also has all the major advisors and curators that work for Qatar.