Sunday, March 6, 2016

Have Art Prices Peaked?

No. Maybe. see new note*
According to the work of Olivier Chanel at Marseilles' Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille (GREQAM), art prices lag equity markets by around a year or so which number matches the experience of most attentive observers.

*I just had an argument that U.S. market valuations are no longer as  correlated as global market cap.

Another approach would be to look at the largest marginal buyer. As an example, the art market peaked in 90-91 after the Japanese market top-ticked in Dec. '89 rather than after the U.S. market highs of August 1987.

Going with the first alternative, world market cap peaked at ~$71 trillion in May 2015 and appears to have bottomed at ~$56 trillion on Feb. 11, hence the new, super-valuable answer of 'maybe'.

From the Daily Mail:

Have art prices PEAKED? Auction houses report falling profits as the value of even Picassos tumble 
  • Auctions by Sotheby's and Christie's bring in 45% less than the year before 
  • Picasso's Tete de Femme sold for £10m less in January than it did in 2013 
  • Drop in prices blamed on macho 'willy waving' by auction house bosses
The world's leading auction houses are experiencing massive slum
ps in profits, with works by renowned artists such as Picasso and Ernst even falling prey to relatively cheap sales.
Auctions held by Sotheby's and Christie's last month sold a collective $210million worth of art, representing a huge 45 per cent drop from the $381 million sold at similar events the year before.

Among those to be hit by the slump has been Christie's International, which reported a five per cent decline in annual sales after five years of growth.
Picasso's Tete de Femme oil painting sold for £18.9million at Sotheby's in January, nearly £10million less than the £28million paid by the seller for the same painting in 2013
The world's leading house in terms of revenue, Christie's said its strategy to hold unique auctions revolving around masterpieces had led to its decline in private sales.

Works by the world's greatest names haven't been immune to the drop in prices either, with Picasso's Tete de Femme oil painting selling for £18.9million at Sotheby's in January, nearly £10million less than the £28million paid by the seller for the same painting in 2013.

Elsewhere, Henri Matisse's The Piano Lesson was estimated at between £12million and £18million, but ended up selling for just £10.8million at a Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art show. 

The drop in prices has been blamed macho 'willy waving' by auction house bosses, obsessed with selling the most art for the most amount of money and not looking at margins....

See also the FT, Feb. 18, "Art Market on the Block".