Trophy Sellers Endanger Art Auction Results –

Trophy Sellers Endanger Art Auction Results –

One of the most dangerous scenarios for the art market is the existence of large numbers of extremely wealthy people who have no idea about the value of art yet have excessive amounts of money to spend on expensive trophies and status symbols. Sound familiar?. While the money was flowing, all those cashed up hedge fund managers and investment bankers were so dazzled by their own wealth that they bought works of art for every conceivable reason other than because it was good art. Not only did they buy art for the wrong reasons but because they had so much money they were willing to pay excessive amounts of money for what were probably mediocre or extremely overrated works of art.

Now that the river of money has dried up and money has started to become an issue for many of the formerly mega wealthy people who were spending big on art the reality of their misguided purchases will start to become clearer. The trophies that they acquired, which they probably now realise are not quite as fantastic as they first thought, will most likely be the first things to go. The problem is that when these works go to auction the sellers will be expecting to sell their works for at least what they payed for them. However because they paid excessive amounts for these works of art and because people are not willing to pay over the odds for anything other than the very best, it is unlikely they will get what they want for them. This won’t stop the owners of these works trying to get a return on their investment which will mean that the auction houses will most likely end up putting lots of works up for auction with estimates and reserves that are way too high for the current market. Excessively high estimates and reserves equals works being passed in or being sold for way under estimate which will make the whole art market appear to be suffering when in fact it really isn’t.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

6 Responses

  1. it’s a bad situation. .but the thought of loaded hedge fund managers and bankers losing their money does make it all a little bit better 🙂

  2. Sounds like a bubble to me!

  3. Markets go up and down all the time including the art market. The scales of the economy are meant to balance the ups and downs so we never get too high or too low in the art market. The only mistake a trophy buyer can make in purchasing art is not enough research and due diligence or trying to make a quick buck. If the trophy seller can wait until the scales are balanced again, there will be even wealthier buyers then before looking for the next trophy.

  4. @Excessively high estimates and reserves equals works being passed in or being sold for way under estimate which will make the whole art market appear to be suffering when in fact it really isn’t.

    Art is a product, Auction is a business, people are buyers and art is art.

    Some thing is only worth what some one will pay for it, no matter what the item is or the state of the economy.

    If it gets sold at a loss, then that is business.

  5. Hi Adam,

    I certainly think that the market shows characteristics of a bubble but I don’t like the idea of the market bubble because it suggests that a sudden and debilitating crash will always follow a bubble which is not the case.


  6. Hi Canvas Wall Art, thanks for the comment. The thought of all those cocky hedge fund manages and investment bankers losing their money is rather gratifying but it would have been better for the art market if they had lost their money a little more slowly


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