The New York Times has been working on a story about art flipping for some time with the goal of showing through had data what is really going on in the art market. Hiring two different consulting firms, they discovered that the perception of more flipping is a function of greater art sales. Another pass at the question revealed that flipping has been declining since the market’s previous peak in 2008:
“Many buyers today seem eager to buy the ‘new kid on the block’ — the hot, young, talked-about artist — for a low price and, in a short time, put the work up for sale, anticipating to receive a multiple of what they paid,” said Angela Westwater of the Sperone Westwater gallery.
At Israel Lund’s New York solo debut in June 2013, for example, an untitled yellow-and-gray painting sold for $7,500; this May it sold for $125,000 at Christie’s. Similar examples abound for recently created works by artists like Lucien Smith and Oscar Murillo.
But the data indicate that contemporary works appearing at auction within three years of their creation are not coming to auction faster than in the past, and that such flipping remains very much the exception, not the rule. Though more works come up for sale each year, the percentage of these works was essentially the same last year, less than 2 percent, as in 2007, Tutela Capital found.
Beautiful Asset did another review of the art market, using a different measure, and reached a similar conclusion: While, historically, the percentage of works resold within five years is higher now than it was, say, two decades ago, that percentage has been decreasing since 2008.“It reached a high right before and after the financial crisis,” said Michael Moses, a founder of Beautiful Asset, “and it has been declining since.”
Barbarians at the Art Auction Gates? Not to Worry (NYTimes.com)