James Tarmy takes a look at the largely un-remarked-upon growth of the print and multiples market. Sales are booming at auction houses and new buyers are coming into the market attracted by the monstrous numbers at the top of the paintings market.
Are prints froth on the bubbly painting market or a canny extension where the work of name artists trades at levels from $1m down to six and the low five figures.
Tarmy talks to Heritage’s Leon Benrimon who is amping up his house’s online print sales from monthly to weekly over the course of 2018. “We’re still only capturing a fragment of the marketplace,” Benrimon tells Tarmy:
Prints might be an entry point into the art market, specialists say, but it’s increasingly clear that for many, the category has become a destination in itself over the last two years or so. “Off the top of my head, I’d say that 50 percent of every auction [is made up of] new bidders,” says Benrimon. That’s a lot of new people each time. “And that’s not after one or two auctions—that’s after 15 of them. And we just look at it, and we don’t get it: How is that possible?”
The big question is whether the growth of the prints market is the final turn in art becoming a market with broader participation or whether the first sign of a downturn will cause many of these prints to be stranded without buyers.