This weekend’s Guardian has some coverage of the impending London sales, including this 50-50 split on what might happen based on your views on how foreign currency markets influence art markets. Melanie Gerlis thinks falling oil prices are a precipitant because of Russian and Gulf States buying. Though when you look at the very top prices paid in recent years for works like Munch’s Scream and Bacon’s Freud portraits, the buyers were Americans who now have a slight currency advantage in buying from London:
Melanie Gerlis, art market editor at The Art Newspaper, says falling oil prices will hit the art market harder than the financial crisis of 2008. In fact, she thinks the fallout from the financial crisis helped the wealthy because state-sanctioned money printing (quantitative easing) pushed up asset prices.
Now clouds are appearing on the horizon everywhere: Russia’s economy is sliding into recession, Europe faces a rerun of the eurozone crisis, while China’s growth is slowing down. “The London sales will be a real test,” she says.
But Thierry Dumoulin, at Artnet, counters that the strong economy in the US and the spread of wealth across Asia will keep the art boom going. “All markets go through cycles though, and the art market is not any different. While it is impossible to predict the timing of corrections, it is reasonable to expect that the art market will one day experience a correction again.” At the moment though, he says: “It does not feel as if such a correction is imminent.”