The TEFAF Art Market Report is rapidly becoming the art fair’s Swimsuit edition, an ancillary product that threatens to overshadow the publicity for the fair itself. McAndrew’s methods—and the quality of her numbers concerning the private market—have been questioned before. But now TEFAF is trying to turn the report’s release into a multi-day media event by giving out highlights today without the supporting numbers which will be released on Friday.
The biggest issue is that McAndrew is simultaneously claiming a 7% rise in Euro terms (with a congruent 6% rise in transaction volume) and a 20% fall in Dollar terms. Without the supporting report, it is hard to tell what this actually means for the art market.
Here’s another troubling statistic from the report. McAndrew says Contemporary and Modern categories account for 76% of all sales. Contemporary is just a hair’s breadth from becoming the majority of the market, McAndrew claims. That would be a landmark (and possibly unsustainable) event.
In 2014 postwar and contemporary art was the largest sector of the fine art market, representing 48 percent of all fine art sales by value. Auction sales of postwar and contemporary art reached €5.9 billion, up 19 percent on 2013 and the highest total ever recorded.
Sales of modern art were the second largest, accounting for 28 percent of the global fine art auction market with auction sales of €3.3 billion.
What these numbers might mean will have to wait for the report’s wider dissemination, presumably on Friday when McAndrew goes through an elaborate dog and pony show at the fair.