Over the years, I have presented a number of posts on the fall and rise of the super-rich art market: the market continues during the crash; after the economic crash in 2008; a new peak in 2009; the Chinese were leading the recovery in 2010. There have been others but I have been busy elsewhere for the last few years and haven’t been writing too much about art and sales. But I have been keeping an eye open.
I watched the market fall flat through most of last year. The oligarchs seemed to have put their money more in additional real estate than art or football clubs for the last year or two, distorting property markets across the globe, and flattening the top end of the art market. This spring’s auctions are supposed to give us a clue as to whether that disappointment will continue this year or whether the current stock exchange record highs will help propel a new burst.
In what might have been a special case or may indeed be a harbinger of the year to come, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev sold a Gauguin last night for US$33.5 million. It was a picture he had purchased in 2008 for US$85 million, leaving him with a 74% loss.
But it is early days yet. This series of 20th century auctions at Christies is hoped to fetch a total of about US$450 million by the time it is complete in the middle of March. What they actually achieve will give us a better idea of where the market is heading.