This would seem like the perfect time to talk about the role of guarantees in the art market. Could it be that guarantees are essential to the new global art market in the same way that blockbuster movies are essential to the entertainment business? Here’s our take in Quartz:
Christie’s is buying market share from Sotheby’s and dealers by using aggressive financial guarantees. Since 2012, the guarantees have been like steroids pumping up Chrsitie’s intimidating sales totals. When Christie’s CEO, Steven Murphy was fired last December, many rushed to declare it was for his over-spending ways. Today, that prediction is laughable. Tomorrow it may seem quaint.
What if the use of guarantees is not aberration? What if Christie’s is merely following the path of other culture industries as they adjust to today’s dominant winner-take-all markets.
Though art may be different from other cultural industries like books, movies and music, it does bear some important similarities. The fading old guard of the art market may still rail against guarantees but upon closer examination, they seem no different from risk-transferring practices of the film and television industries.