Art As An Asset

The Wall Street Journal is running a very good article on art as an asset.  The article states the wealthy are more and more inclined to invest in art as an alternative to traditional types of financial investments.  I have been saying this for some time now, and much can be understood on this trend through sites and indexes such as the often quoted Mie Moses art indexes which tracks duplicate sales over time. The article states Christie's sales were up 14% in 2011 to $4.9 billion and included $808.6 million through the private sales division.

The article also looks into how the major auctions houses are fine tuning their strategies to deal with the wealthy in general and with emerging wealth centers aw well.  It does mention US sales at Christie's have been declining while other emerging geographic areas such as Asia are rapidly growing. It also touches on the popularity of contemporary art because the price swings are a bit more dramatic, therefore attracting more speculation.

Overall a very good article for appraisers to read and understand.

The WSJ reports
Steven Murphy, chief executive of the privately held Christie's, said collectors and investors alike see art as a potentially safe haven for their cash at a time when the broader financial outlook remains volatile: "Everyone is doubling down on art," he said. "That's why our market is so strong now."

Overall, art values rose 10.2% last year, according to art-market analyst Michael Moses, whose New York firm Beautiful Asset Advisors runs indexes that track shifts in the sale prices of thousands of artworks that have sold at auction more than once over the years.

The pace of art buying varies around the world, though. Collectors in the U.S. shopped cautiously last year, with Christie's sales in America dropping 3%, to $1.9 billion, from the year before. Its sales also were down 64% in Dubai, to $18.6 million. On the other hand, European collectors—particularly those from Italy and Switzerland—stepped up their bidding. Christie's sales in Europe totaled $2.2 billion, up 29% from 2010.

Christie's greatest triumph came from Roy Lichtenstein, whose 1961 comicbook-style painting of a young man staring through a peephole, "I Can See the Whole Room…and There's Nobody in It!," sold for $43.2 million in November, setting a new record for the Pop artist.

Sotheby's fared even better with Clyfford Still's jagged abstract, "1949-A-No. 1," which sold for $61.7 million in November.

Both houses seized on collectors' wider interest in contemporary art, a category that includes works created since 1949. The style is particularly popular with newly wealthy, younger buyers who want art made by their generational peers.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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