Whitehot Magazine

May 2015: March/ April Art Market Report

General ambience at ARCOmadrid 2015. Image courtesy of ARCOmadrid.


By Shireen Lohrasbe

ARTPRICE RELEASE ITS 13TH “Annual Global Art Market Report, late February. “[P]ublished in six languages through more than 7,200 international institutions and media outlets” the most recent report extends previous editions by 100 pages (at 288). According to the report, “[t]he global Fine Art Market posted a new record level of activity in 2014, with a total auction turnover of $15.2 billion, up 26% compared with 2013 ($12.05 billion) and more than 300% compared with a decade earlier.”

Artprice’s yearly report is distributed exclusively through AFP Monde and published in partnership with AMMA (Art Market Monitor of Artron). CEO Thierry Ehrmann describes the joint publishing with Wan Jie of Artron Art Group (AMMA) as one “whose respective positions as unavoidable institutions in the West and the East underpin their objective to provide top quality information for their readers and art market participants. The collaboration [represents] a historical contribution for the art market, which, from an economic, econometric and sociological standpoint, has only existed in its current format for the last thirty years or so.” Ehrmann describes AMMA as “the only Chinese quasi-State institution allowing both partners to produce data that had never previously been processed due to a lack of completeness, resources and State authorization. Artprice has no qualms whatsoever in stating that so-called Western studies of the Chinese Art Market are based, at best, on fanciful assumptions. This report will finally allow a clear and transparent understanding of the Art Market in both the West and the East.”

THE 34TH EDITION OF ARCOMADRID closed March 1. The fair presented 218 participant galleries (29 new; 71% foreign-based) from 30 countries with focus on Columbia. Sales were up—ARCOmadrid welcomed 50% new collectors with an estimated 100,000+ visitors.

THE 17TH EDITION OF ARMORY SHOW ran March 5–8. This year the fair showcased over 199 galleries from 28 countries repping 1,500 artists. Omar Kholeif curated Armory Focus: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean (MENAM).

ARMORY WEEK INCLUDES SATELLITE FAIRS and events to coincide with the main fair. The 27th annual ADAA Art Show was once again held at the Park Avenue Armory, and featured solo, two-person, and thematic exhibitions organized by 72 leading art dealers. The 15th edition of Scope New York hosted 55 galleries from 18 countries; the 6th edition of Independent presented 50 galleries and non-profits in the old DIA Building; and the 10th Pulse New York exhibited 46 galleries from 13 countries.

IN EARLY MARCH, SOTHEBY’S ANNOUNCED redirecting its focus on the middle market. By targeting high and lower value consignments (works in the $5,000–$50,000 range) Sotheby’s will likely boost its revenues for 2015.

IN MID-MARCH, SOTHEBY’S appointed Tad Smith its new president and CEO. Smith is president and chief executive of New York's Madison Square Garden—a corporate type with little fine art experience—replacing 35-year veteran CEO William Ruprecht. Ruprecht’s tensions with activist investor Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC hedge fund (which owns a 9.6% stake of Sotheby’s BID) caused the publically traded auction house’s stock to plummet over the past two years. Kathryn Tully at Forbes articulated: “Activist investor Daniel Loeb, of hedge fund Third Point LLC, started petitioning for the removal of Sotheby’s current CEO William Ruprecht in August 2013, as part of a proxy battle and campaign to make the auction a more effective competitor with arch rival Christie’s. Third Point was finally given three seats on Sotheby’s board last May and Sotheby’s announced last November that Ruprecht would step down once a successor was found… Unlike Ruprecht, who has been CEO of Sotheby’s since 2000, Smith has no experience of the auction busines[s.]”

THE THIRD EDITION OF ART BASEL HONG KONG ran March 13–17. The annual fair, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), presented “233 galleries representing 37 countries, from Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe,” and clocked nearly 60,000 visitors. ABHK Director Adeline Ooi told The Wall Street Journal “Hong Kong has become recognized very much as the international Asian art hub…. Maybe 10 years ago it wasn’t the case, but now this is very pronounced.”

TEFAF RELEASED ITS ANNUAL ART MARKET REPORT mid-March, corresponding with TEFAF Maastricht. The report is put together by Arts Economics, founded by Dr. Clare McAndrew—a cultural economist who specializes in fine art and antiques and collectibles markets. Arts Economics, has been “[covering] macro-economic art market studies, micro-level sector analysis, art banking and investment-related services” since 2005.

According to TEFAF’s press release, “Around 225 delegates attended the Art Symposium on Friday 13th March, at which Dr. Clare McAndrew presented the 2015 TEFAF Art Market Report.” The latest edition states that the global art market (in all sectors) realized €51 Billion in 2014 (~$56.7 Billion USD)—a 7% increase from 2013 and the highest tally ever recorded. The US, China and UK accounted for the highest distribution of sales by volume at 39%, 22% and 22% respectively. Moreover, post-war and contemporary art represented 48% of all sales by value. Approximately 1,530 lots sold at auction for over €1 Million (96 for €10 Million+) which is a 17% increase on 2013.

AFTER 17 YEARS, TEFAF’S MANAGING DIRECTOR Paul Hustinx stepped down from his post. He is succeeded by Patrick van Maris, officially TEFAF’s Chief Executive Officer as of May 2015 (a month after the 2015 edition). This year's TEFAF Maastricht presented 274 exhibitors from 20+ countries in mid-March. More than 10,000 international collectors attended the preview on March 12 and the visitor count surpassed 75,000 over ten days. Sales were equally impressive for the 28th edition (final numbers have yet to be released).

THE AUSTRALIAN ART MARKET is tiny compared to most countries however, its equally small collector base greatly supports the British market. According to an article published in The Sidney Morning Herald, “a pocket of 50 or so Australian collectors last year spent more than $8 million on modern British art and are now responsible for 10 per cent of Christie's modern British art turnover in London.” WM



Shireen Lohrasbe

Shireen holds a BBA in Design & Management from Parsons The New School for Design and an MA in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York. She has contributed to several online publications including Art Observed, Quintessentially Art, and Whitewall Magazine. Shireen is a regular art market contributor at Whitehot Magazine.

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