• 9 Feb 2018

At first glance, it seems that the Fine Arts market just went through one of its best years in 2017. Indeed, the symbolic sales of both the most expensive Artwork in the world, “Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo Da Vinci for 450,3 million dollars, and the Artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat for 110,5 million dollars, were much written about. However, the hidden face of the market, the one where emerging Art collectors and Artists can be found, eroded even more.How can we analyze the 2017 Fine Arts market records?

This image by Pexels represents a chessboard with two wooden figurines.

© Pexels

2017: the year of world records

Ever since “Salvator Mundi”, the new iconic alter ego of the Jocund at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, was sold, the Art world has been over the moon. Indeed, the sale deals during auctions at the main auction houses generated significant revenue. On May 18th 2017, the sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Artwork went over the limit of 58, 5 million dollars which was the record previously set by Jeff Koons in 2013. As a result, Artprice said that between 2000 and 2017, there has been a growth of 1400% for contemporary Art along with 700 museums openings per year. In fact, for example, Christie’s France made 342, 3 million Euros worth in sales which is 40% more than 2016. The smaller auction houses are far from being outdone like Aguttes and its 45 million Euros revenue.

This is Leonardo Da Vinci's "Salator Mundi" the most expensive Artwork in the world sold for over 450 million dollars.

Salvator Mundi, around 1500 © Leonardo Da Vinci

The new presence of online selling platforms

The multiplication of online selling platforms also participated in the increase of the Art world revenue and generated 3, 27 billion dollars in 2017. Nevertheless, the total income was mainly the consequence of the main auction houses that extended their online services. In addition, only recognized and confirmed Artists fin buyers online. Finally, according to the Hiscox Art report, 51% of the buyers are reluctant to the idea of buying an Artwork without seeing it in real life. Also, only 28% of the galleries offer the possibility to buy Art online. This is mostly because there is reluctance to a system that is based on the “click and buy” motto. Consequently, it questions the interaction between the buyer and seller. However, close to 41% of galleries use online selling platforms. This slow process of adaptation also comes from the fact that few emerging Artists actually sell online. The human connection and physical contact with the Artwork remain irreplaceable.

This picture by jpvargas represents a graffiti portraying Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Jean-Michel Basquiat © jpvargas

The upper hand of the Fine Arts market favored, the majority cast aside

The 2017 Art world records mainly include the upper hand of the Fine Arts market meaning its most recognized and wealthiest players. Several factors reinforce that analysis. Indeed, the new tax law enacted by American President Donald Trump favors capital over estate which enables the wealthiest to be even wealthier. As a result, the richest players of the Fine Arts market are the ones who benefit from it. The wealthiest families will keep on investing in Artists who already are well established in the Fine Arts market. This is the analysis of Northern Trust Executive Vice President Mac MacLellan. New York Art advisor Wendy Cromwell denounces the fact that Art only defines itself through the upper hand of the Fine Arts market. In fact, she reminds the fact that the silent majority of emerging collectors and galleries possess Artworks from Artists whose value is now lower than its original one. However, they are the very foundation on which the Fine Arts market relies on. Art-Trope supports worldwide Artists on the long term and guaranties exhibition spaces and collectors the Artists will not lose their value.

Read our article about the impact of French and American taxation on the Fine Arts market here.

Sources: The New York Times, Hiscox Art, The Huffington Post and Connaissances des Arts