Colin Gleadell delves deeply into recently aborted sale of works from the Artist Pension Trust. Last week in London, 18 works owned by the APT, which owns work from 2,000 artists who agreed to pool their work to create a form of a pension, were pulled from the mid-season sale.
Gleadell says the artists and their galleries were the ones pushing for the works to be withdrawn:
“We had conversations with some of the artists, and the closer the auction got, the more the artists and their galleries said that auction was not in their best interests,” says Al Brenner, CEO of the new MutualArt Group. […] “Some of the galleries said they could get better prices.”
Whether the galleries would source works from APT on a fee or a consignment basis, Gleadell couldn’t determine. But the sale does highlight one of the issues with the whole art-as-an-asset model is the way the value of the work fluctuates and the basic illiquidity of the art market, especially for working artists.
Gleadell offers some interesting numbers on that score:
Now numbering some 13,000 works by 2,000 artists, the APT Collection is one of the biggest in the world. In 2014 [APT] valued it at $500 million, estimating that would double over the following four years. Sales did not start happening until 2016, and since then, over 60 works have sold for approximately $1.2 million.
If one were to extrapolate from those 60 works, the APT is now down to half its value ~$260m. Of course, you can’t mark art to market that way. The value of an artwork can rapidly go from zero as it sits in a collector’s home (or storage, as with APT) to a much higher number when there’s more than one potential buyer.