Single Owner Art Auctions Defy Downturn –

Single Owner Art Auctions Defy Downturn –

african-art-collectionOver the last few months I have noticed a particularly interesting trend emerge that says a lot about the way people perceive, and are approaching, the art market. There have been quite a few auctions of single owner collections in recent months most of which have achieved particularly good results. Thee results achieved by these single owner sales have been anomalous when compared to the far less successful auctions that did not consist of works from a single owner collection. Why has this been the case I hear you ask, well, let me tell you.

There are two characteristics that become even more important and desirable during times of financial crisis and those characteristics are provenance and rarity. Because of the financial crisis investors and collectors are having to justify their purchases far more than usual. This means that works which represent a higher level of risk are less likely to find buyers and that buyers are attracted to works that have as many evident and indisputable sources or indications of value as possible. By evident and indisputable sources of value I mean such things as provenance, rarity and quality which are all characteristics that:
-add a certain value to a work of art that cannot be taken away
-are not reliant on people’s opinions
-are based on factual information
Because these characteristics are a particularly reliable and stable source of value they provide the collector or investor with a certain level of reassurance and confidence when faced with a decision of whether or not to make the purchase.

The best way to explain how the characteristics of a work of art have an effect on a buyers perception of a work of art is using a horse racing analogy. If your were a horse racing fanatic and were faced with a financial crisis that meant your financial security was under threat you would be more likely to bet on races that offered less risk. Betting on a horse that came from a successful stable, had a high success rate and a was being ridden by a champion jockey would be far easier to justify during a time of financial crisis than a risky bet on an outsider.

Works of art that come from a single owner collection that is being sold as a collection often have excellent provenance and are also often fresh to market which can be translated as rarely put on the market. Because works from single owner collections offer both provenance and rarity they tend to be more desirable and highly valued than if the works had not been part of a sale of a single owner collection. Other reasons that works from single owner collections are so desirable are:
-A certain credibility is afforded to works that have been part of a significant collection
-Collectors who have put together a collection over a long period of time usually focus on a very specific area and will aim to obtain the best examples from the area and to build as complete a story as possible
-Works in a collection represent an approach to art that is fueled by passion and devotion that suggests that the person who put the collection together focused on the art instead of the money and would not compromise their collection with inferior or dubious works.
-The purchase of the work has already been justified by someone else who has included that work in their collection

I’ll leave you with a quote that I particularly like from the Christie’s Private Collection and County House Sales Department which reads:
“The magic of the objects, the styles of their owners and the romance of times past are
intertwined in the sale of a single-owner collection. Sometimes conducted at the collection’s location, such auctions evoke the ambiance of the property’s original setting and suggest to buyers how pieces can be displayed in their own homes.”

To be continued….

**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. Thanks for the info. Interesting trend indeed. I have my own Single owner auctions going on in my ebay store Urban Picasso Art

    Visit my Online Sinle owner autions at

  2. Not to hijack this thread, but I’d like to find out if I’m eligible for a higher priced rental and I can’t figure out how to find a good, local property management firm… do you know anything about this company? They’re located in Sacramento, CA 20 min from my office and I can’t find reviews on them – Sacramento Property Management Consultants, 600 H St Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 282-3103.

  3. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A small number of my blog readers have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any ideas to help fix this problem?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: