The priciest segment of the art market surged to record highs in 2013 amid demand from established collectors and wealthy new buyers from emerging-market economies.
The top 10 auction lots of 2013 raised $752.2 million, a 27 percent increase from 2012 and an 82 percent jump from 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Every item in the group fetched more than $45 million. In November, Christie’s International Plc sold $692 million of art in less than three hours, the highest auction tally ever.
“The top end of the market used to be $10 million; now it’s $50 million,” said Philip Hoffman, chief executive of the London-based Fine Art Fund. “The auction houses are getting new super-rich clients from China, Russia and the Middle East. These are very wealthy families and they want something amazing.”
Collectors are bidding up art prices as easy-money policies among central banks and rising global stock markets boost the fortunes of the world’s richest people. The combined wealth of the top 200 billionaires has surged by $422.2 billion this year through Dec. 20, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Just in case you had not noticed, there is an increasing amount of money sloshing around the system. Take a look at prices for the ten most expensive pictures auctioned this year, listed below, plus a 59.6 carat flawless pink diamond which should be less subject to fashion than the pictures. This is mostly nouveau riche buying which usually follows fashion, either because the buyer has heard of the artist or the influential dealer can get a higher commission for it. Most of the art market has only begun to recover so this is a good time to buy what you really like and can afford.
The surge of interest in art markets, not to mention Wall Street led share indices, is powerful evidence that leading nations are not slipping into a disinflationary / deflationary spiral as some pundits have forecast. The global economy is slowly recovering and when this process is synchronised, we will need to worry about inflation once again.Back to top