Fund manager Mark B. Spiegel was doing a little thinking about the art market while strolling the Met yesterday. What’s interesting about Spiegel’s rumination is that he started from the knee jerk assumption that the art market is a bubble. And although there remains no fundamental value undergirding the market, Spiegel sees a fair amount of money driving art forward. Just look at these calculations:
According to Forbes, the combined wealth of the world’s billionaires is over $5 trillion. Even if one were to assume that one must be a billionaire to spend $25 million or more on a painting (thereby eliminating all of those worth in the hundreds of millions) and if one were to further assume that billionaires were– on average– willing to devote no more than 20% of their net worth to fine art, that’s still $1 trillion worth of combined fine-art buying power. (Remember, someone worth a billion dollars who spends a combined $200 million on an intercontinental jet, a 175′ yacht and three incredible houses still has over 80% of his wealth untouched, while someone worth $2 billion still has 90%.) So with $1 trillion of “billionaire art buying power” out there, that’s enough money to purchase 40,000 (!) paintings at $25 million each, while last year only around 20 were auctioned at that price or higher.
Is The Art Market A Bubble That’s About To Burst? Maybe Not. (Seeking Alpha)