Economic slowdown. What does it mean for the art market?
First, one must understand that the art market is constantly changing. With the fall of communism, the art market was opened up to a group of millionaires that had never before had the opportunity to purchase western works. Particularly affected has been 19th Century American Art.
Recently, Art Market Watch asked Artnet.com to crunch some numbers for the 2008 summer season. The full results can be found here. What the list showed was that prices for high priced artworks are going up. In the first half of 2008, new records were set for almost 1000 artists including Francis Bacon's Triptych from 1976 (seen above) which sold for $86 million. And on June 24, Monet's Le Bassis aux Nymphias from his waterlily series sold at Christies London for $80.5 million.
It is important to note that while prices for expensive works remain high, the number of wealthy Americans buying that art has gone down. This year, due to a weak dollar and because of the economic downturn, Americans are buying less while a group of ultra rich buyers overseas are buying more. According to a story from NPR on Morning Edition (June 25) these buyers are predominantly located in Russia and India. That was the case with the aforementioned Francis Bacon which sold to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Another way the economy has affected the art market is the way people buy art. Often, art investment groups are lending money to people who want to buy art and then they use the art itself for collateral.
Right now it is impossible to say how the stock market will affect the art market in the coming months but if the trends remain the same, the most prestigious works will continue to sell high.