The record-setting sales in New York—topped by the Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud—provoked a lot of interest in the art market and who buys the top works. Al-Jazeera America spoke to Marion Maneker about what drives the top end of the art market and what becomes of the works that briefly make headlines:
Art auctions and the international art fairs that complement them — in Basel, Miami, Paris — provide the world’s elite with an opportunity to rub shoulders and discuss art as they augment their collections.
“The art world has become this central thread for people of this ilk to come together,” said Marion Maneker, the publisher of Art Market Monitor and president of the Art Compliance Company. In part, he said, “that’s why you’re seeing these prices go up.” […]
Yet while the auction houses are booming thanks to this emerging class of collectors, art critics worry what these new collectors mean for the world’s most treasured art.
Since no one knows who most of these bidders are, no one knows where all this art is headed either.
“When art gets global like this, the real question is: Where does the public get to see it?” said Art Market Monitor’s Maneker. […]
Some critics bemoaned the fact that the world’s most expensive painting might not resurface from a private collection for many years, saying that it instead belonged in a museum, but Maneker said those concerns are misplaced.
“You put something in a museum because a scholar or curator has made a choice that this work represents an important moment in an artist’s career or in art history, not because someone spent a lot of money on it,” he said.
Besides, even in the super-elite world of billionaire collectors, museums still have a role to play. Work featured in the world’s preeminent museums is likely to gain in value, just as a work of art’s provenance — the list of previous owners — can boost its price.
Art sales records shattered with global rise of billionaires (Al-Jazeera America)
There are many good reasons to call for regulation in the art market but few government solutions that make sense. The Art Compliance Company was founded, in part, as a response to the need for better mechanisms that would replace the need for regulation.
The most striking thing about the art market—especially as it has grown from the small, passionate community of the early 1990s to a $50bn industry today—is that it largely functions along self-regulating lines. Prices, authenticity, standards and practices are all arrived at among the art world itself, without much reference or recourse to government—it feels like a libertarian’s dream of a free and unfettered market. But, the recent scandal engulfing the 165-year-old Knoedler Gallery, with the authenticity of works attributed to US painters including Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock coming under scrutiny (The Art Newspaper, January 2012, pp4,5), suggests that more adult supervision is required.
Art market analysis: A market in need of supervision (The Art Newspaper)