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ART MARKET SLIPPING?


If you believe the news releases from the PR departments of Sotheby’s and Christie’s, you believe the art market is booming along in this time of otherwise financial uncertainty. You believe that the super-rich are moving from stock investments to valuable personal property–especially art. You believe that records are being broken across the board. You believe that the art market is outstripping all other markets.

This is, of course, a very limited and highly spun perspective.¬†The only sales written about are in the very top (probably 2%) of the art market and bear no relationship to the 98% of art sold in the rest of the market, especially the Decorative Art market that sells to 85% of the people who buy art. It’s all part of the hype and games that characterize this most opaque portion of our economy. It’s what I write about in Artful Dodgers.

People send me articles all the time about how strong “the art market” is. It’s kind of like looking at the two best private high schools in a state and declaring that education is excellent¬†in that state.

Now, we see on the laudable blog Appraiser Workshops (appraiserworkshops.com) that the latest ArtTactic US & European Art Market Confidence survey that “the art market” slipped by 8.6% between January, 2012 and June as rated by the confidence the players have in it.

Actually, in the $1 million plus price range (where you and I buy all the time) the confidence rating has increased from 81% to 97%. That’s all very well for the high rollers to whom a purchase in the multi-million dollar range is no big deal, but since there is a dwindling supply of excellent vintage art and much of the top of the market is for Contemporary Art, I’ll just remind you of my recent realization: 3/4 of the word “contemporary” is “temporary”. In other words, get in, buy, hold the art a relatively short time and get out before the “temporary” perceptions and branding begin to fade.

And finally, remember my warning that you cannot invest in the work of a living artist. You can only speculate in the work of a living artist.