Picasso's Femmes d'Algers in Hong Kong; and some thoughts on the Marron deal.
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.)
The Marron Sale’s Effect on the Market
Yesterday’s news announcing the private sale of Donald Marron’s art collection through a coalition of the collector’s former galleries provoked a few comments in the press and on Twitter about the arrangement marking a meaningful change in the way the art market functions. It is certainly worth asking a few questions about how this might have come about.
The deal with Marron’s heirs comes at a time when auction volumes are shrinking but private sales are booming at Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s. Presumably the large global dealers like Pace, Gagosian and Acquavella are seeing a similar increase in their own sales. Why? After a long run-up in art prices from 2009 to 2015, pricing has stabilized across the art market. For many major artists fair prices have been established at auction and enough trading has taken place around those prices (both in public and private) to reassure buyers and sellers that a deal is fair.
Auctions exist to provide a mechanism for price discovery. In that sense, the auction houses have done their job well, maybe even too well. It is now easier for the private market to function where sellers have the option of taking their time to find a fair price and buyers have the discretion of a private deal.
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