Sluggish Economy Hardly Slowing Art Collectors

May 13, 2008 12:23 PM
by Cara McDonough
Art collectors spent millions at New York auctions last week, although a slightly more cautious tone has entered the market.

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Auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s had predicted their impressionist and modern art sales would bring record-breaking prices last week, and they were proved right for the most part, The Financial Times reports.

The sales included some major purchases. Claude Monet’s “Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil” went for $41.4 million, breaking the previous Christie’s record: $35 million for a Monet last year.

But despite the high bids, Ian Peck, chief executive of art finance house Art Capital Group, said there was not the usual depth to bidding at the sales, most likely due to current economic conditions.

“There was a pushback on estimates. … Only a handful of the wealthiest collectors were bidding. In a healthy art market, you’ll see a larger and more diverse group of bidders,” he said.

Even if art buyers aren’t bidding with their usual zest, the art market seems to be largely untouched by worldwide economic woes.

The economic climate is not hurting the upper echelons of the housing market, either, where billionaires, like Mukesh Ambani, who recently built the world’s most expensive private home in India, thrive.

New Zealand International Art Centre director Richard Thomson explained to the New Zealand Herald in March that there is a simple explanation for the art market’s success in times of financial trouble. He said that when the stock market is not doing well, investors look for alternative places to put their money, including investing in art.

Headline Links: Art still a good investment

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Reference: Fine art


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