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The alignment of forces in the modern art market: the largest auction houses

If we talk about the current state of the global art market as a whole, then three hegemonic countries – the USA, China, and Great Britain – “rule the ball” on it. Everything that happens in this market has changed a lot over the past ten years, not least in connection with globalization. The ups and downs of the antique market are tied to economic crises. In recent decades, there have been two significant market subsidence. The first significant drop in sales occurred in the period 1990-91, and was associated with the fall of the yen: the Japanese were always among the most active buyers in the art market.

The second drop was more significant and took place between 2008-09 and the acute phase of the crisis in the United States. This period was characterized by an almost hysterical fall in prices in almost all segments of the art market. However, despite the continuing depressive mood of consumers, already in 2010, prices for works of art again went up. Note that sales of Russian art in this crisis did not even fall – in the upper price segment: Malevich and the Jack of Diamonds association.

However, there was a drop in sales in the middle price segment, which was observed in particular at the 2014 antique showroom, when half of the space was empty.

In general, it can be noted that thanks to globalization, the importance of developing markets is growing and this is a truly established trend that will only strengthen with time. In 2013, China took the first place in the world in the turnover of art objects. However, in the next, 2014, China had to cede the United States.

The third place in the turnover of works of art has been firmly held by Great Britain for many years. The phenomenon of the British market is its maximum concentration. So 50% of the works of old masters. sold in London. Here every winter there is a week of sales of paintings by old masters. Great Britain has a very old tradition of the antique market; it is a country of great collectors. The only country in the world where so many private collections have been preserved – some trace their history back to the 16th century. (meeting of the royal family). From a certain moment, the economic difficulties of the royal family led to the fact that these collections can be seen for money. In English and Scottish castles, you can still see collections in the form in which they were created.

You can highlight another trend in the modern art market – a steady increase in the share of the Arab world in circulation. This share is constantly growing, but, apparently, it still will not reach the level of China, due to the weak developed culture of private collecting. The main buyer from the Arab world is the state.

We can distinguish the distribution of segments of demand for works of art across countries. Active sales of paintings by old masters are held in England or in France. Modernism, contemporary art is best sold at New York auctions. Currently, New York is the main sales center for contemporary art (post-war and contemporary, Post-war & Contemporary ,, Impressionism Modern and Impressionist art). In total sales in New York, old masters occupy only 8% of the total number of lots, and a little less – the art of the XIX century. Once, auctions on art of the 19th century were not allocated separately, now they began to be allocated due to the small number of sales.

In order to truly “take place” by a contemporary artist, to gain worldwide fame, it is necessary that his works be recognized first of all in New York, and already in the second – in Paris or London.

According to statistics from 2014 in New York, 50% of lots of post-war (post-war) and contemporary art were sold at auctions. The cost of the work of contemporary artists is growing rapidly. But so far, the prices of the so-called contemporary art still lag significantly behind the prices of the recognized classics of impressionism.

Auctions on the art of Orientalism are becoming increasingly popular. In particular, a large number of such auctions are held in the UK, where you can buy Chinese porcelain, an Indian figurine and Japanese satsuma.

As for the auction houses, there is a duopoly – two giants – Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The hegemony of these two competitors of the art market is not canceled.

There are auction houses, there are galleries. Auctions make up about half of the art market. In addition, private sales occupy a certain market share. Galleries do not publish information about such sales, so their market share is difficult to analyze. And such antique houses as Sotheby’s and Christie’s are constantly increasing the share of their private sales- sales of all auctions. Big bucks love silence, and auction house customers are no exception. Through private sales (private sales) people find out the price of a painting, in addition, there are always people who do not want to put their things on the market, it is easier for them to sell for a certain price. Usually these are very expensive paintings, neither buyers nor sellers want to reveal themselves.

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