Sporting slimline retro glasses, new look over-stitched denim trousers, an open-fronted, zip to the neck, leisure wear-inspired stripy cardigan and lime green Bailey shoes, my good friend and 20th century design guru Geoffrey Hatty raised a very important point the other day. Over a glass of dry white wine he announced that the values currently achieved at auction for 20th century art and design do not represent the value of the objects themselves.
Bear with me on this one. Geoffrey’s clarity of view fundamentally contradicts the widely accepted and long-held art market belief that values achieved at a public auction, an ‘open and fair market’, create the floor price for an artwork within the secondary market. For decades it has been accepted that if, say, a Nathan Taylor painting achieves $20,000 at auction, then a new floor price has been set for all Nathan Taylor paintings of that date, quality, subject and size. In effect the public auction benchmark, secondary market price trickle down effect. Well Geoffrey and I say that this is often not the case.
Geoffrey’s theory states that a price achieved at auction, for example for a Modernist c1940s vase, is the price achieved at the time, at that particular auction and under those particular circumstances only. Essentially, the price realised at auction is not generally indicative of what Geoffrey believes to be the value of the artwork or what he would pay. Geoffrey states (and I fully agree) that the auction sale price in many, many instances can now no longer be considered the benchmark of an artwork’s value.Continue Reading