The Wall Street Journal tells us the art market is a blue-light special.This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.) One of the big problems with gauging the ups and downs of the art market is figuring out what we’re measuring. Much was made last week of the fact that the auctions were down from last year. These conclusions rely on headline numbers—sale totals—to measure the market. A third fewer dollars were spent on works of art at these November sales than in November 2018. The natural conclusion is that art market is in a cyclical swoon. The inference is that there is less demand for art this year than last. But the art market isn’t a commodity market. This year’s mix of lots on offer is significantly different from last year’s lots. It;s more like other heterogenous markets we measure on a regular basis, namely the real estate market. When the National Association of Realtors releases its monthly report on existing home sales, the headline number is the number of transactions, not the aggregate value of all homes sold in the month. The NAR doesn’t even publish average home prices. They publish median home prices. Finally, and most important, we don’t see national economic statistics for the housing market based upon where homes are selling relative to asking prices. All of this comes to mind when reading The Wall Street Journal’s somewhat overstated conclusion that last week’s buying activity constituted “a bargain-hunter’s paradise.”
Sign up to Art Market Monitor Premium today
You need a membership to AMMpro to view this article and other exclusive content daily.
You can register today for $90 per month—with your first month free!—or for $756 per year (no free trial period.)
If you already have an account, sign in here: