Art Bankers Take Advantage of Falling Prices- artmarketblog.com

Art Bankers Take Advantage of Falling Prices- artmarketblog.com

falling pricesThe interest in structured art investment programs has continued to remain relatively high considering the recent concerns voiced by some regarding the state of the art market. Since the beginning of the year there have been several new art investment programs launched which suggests that the categorisation of art as an asset class has not been damaged by the recent market jitters. In fact, with plenty of bargains up for grabs there is probably no better time for art investment funds to be buying works.

The most significant of the new programs is the so called “Collection of Modern Art Fund” which is a product of the UK based Castlestone Management, a privately owned independent fund manager. According to the fund website (http://www.collectionofmodernart.co.uk) “Collection of Modern’s Art’s investment philosophy is focused on building a diversified portfolio of artists to provide medium to long-term appreciation based on thorough research and the proven strength of the market for these artists. The portfolio composition is a key component to ensuring the returns of the fund are in line with the market. With this achieved, the fund can act as a real asset, increasing in value with money supply and inflation and thus providing an inflation hedge. In the initial selection process, the manager aims to identify works of art for the portfolio that broadly represent the Art Market Research 100 index”

The second major art investment program to be launched is a collaboration between the China Merchants Bank and the China Contemporary Art Foundation. China Merchants Bank (CMB) have taken what is a slightly different approach to art banking by offering their clients the opportunity to put down a deposit on a work of art chosen a group of experts and take possession of the work of art for a period of twelve months. If after the twelve month period the client decides that they want to purchase the work of art they can do so or if they do not want to purchase it they can return it and receive a full refund. According to one of the bank’s representatives who was interviewed by the People’s Daily Online Newspaper, “Some banks hire art investment consultant and bring clients’ money to auction house. We are not doing that, because it easily slips out of control. We offer free transportation and as long as the artwork is well preserved, our clients will at least break-even”

Adding to the options for keen art fund investors is Phillip Hoffman’s The Fine Art Fund Group Ltd (http://www.thefineartfund.com/) who have indicated at the beginning of the year that they would be starting a new fund to take advantage of the fall in price of many works of art. Since the beginning of the year Hoffman has further indicated his intentions to raise $100 million dollars of the next year to purchase works from private and institutional collections that are up for sale. According to a report from the Financial Times, the group is currently looking at purchasing two major art collections one of which is owned by a Spanish bank and the other by a manufacturer. After postponing their plans for a dedicated Indian art fund creatively titled the Indian Fine Art Fund due to the current instability of the market for Indian art, it is good to see this new initiative from Hoffman.

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

Investing in Social Art Projects – artmarketblog.com

Investing in Social Art Projects – artmarketblog.com

Trust Art artist Jason Eppink

Trust Art artist Jason Eppink

A new project called Trust Art (http://www.trustart.org) which is described as “A stock market for cultural renewal” has recently been launched by the founders of Fame Game (http://www.famegame.com). According to the Fame Game website “FAME GAME is a rapidly-growing website that maps and analyzes your social connections and media attention to help you promote meaningful ideas, people, and organizations in culture. FAME GAME creates public-facing “social network” profiles for the 150,000+ most visible players in the New York media based on their cultural footprint”. The Fame Game mission is to mission to figure out how these players work together in the real world, and bring that model online which can then be used to give emerging artists, business leaders and personalities information about the way people use their fame to get attention for the things that they care about. The driving force of Fame Game and also of Trust Art is the concept of Social Capital which is defined as the pattern and intensity of networks among people and the shared values which arise from those networks.

The Trust Art project is a sort of interactive art fund that gives people the opportunity to invest their money in one of ten social art projects by ten different artists. Shares in each of the projects are available for $1 each with a minimum investment of $1 and no maximum investment although I presume that the most money anyone would want to invest would be the total cost of the project. The money invested goes towards the completion of the project as outlined by the artist on the Trust Art website. Once the project is completed, the finished work is auctioned off and the proceeds are split 50/50 between the artist and the share holders. All investors are encouraged to promote the project that they have invested in so that more people invest money and so that the project receives media attention and becomes more popular. The idea behind the promotion side of the concept is that promoting the project and increasing it’s popularity will increase it’s value and the return to shareholders once the work is auctioned off.

The biggest problem that I can see with the whole Trust Art concept is the works of art themselves which are not exactly what one would consider to be investment grade works of art. Each of the ten proposed works are more what I would call conceptual installations that are the sort of works people go to see at museums or at public galleries and not the sort of works that people invest in. As an example, one of the artists, Facundo Newbery, will construct a self-sufficient home solely out of garbage and shipping containers collected from the streets of Brooklyn. Throughout the project and after its completion, Facundo will offer a transparent look into his techniques for recycling urban waste so that others may do the same. The object (auction artifact) that will be auctioned is listed as a handmade home in the tropics which doesn’t really seem like something that many people would be interested in purchasing. Other “auction artifacts” include a dance performance, a video installation, 5 photographic portraits, an antique fountain repurposed to flow with perfumed water and an original building facade reimagined by street artists. The other problem with the project is that the artists themselves aren’t really all that well known but I suppose the purpose of the site is to enlist the help of the investors to make the artists and their work well known.

Of all the projects the most viable, most tangible and most investment worthy is “The Documentary Starring Everyone in the World” by Jason Eppink. According to the Trust Art website “Jason will collect and assemble an extensive photographic database, the contents of which resemble the age and appearance of the world’s 6 billion people. The images are then assembled into a documentary that plays 9 images per frame and runs over the course of two and a half weeks in various global locations” The object that will be auctioned is a video installation representing 6.7 billion people. Several of Eppink’s past projects such as “Pixelator” and “Take a Seat” have been very successful and received plenty of press attention which is a good sign for potential investors. You can see more of Jason Eppink’s work at http://www.jasoneppink.com

For more information on the Trust Art project visit http://www.trustart.org

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

Osian’s Art Fund Emerges as High Yielding Asset Class in Global Meltdown – artmarketblog.com

Osian’s Art Fund Emerges as High Yielding Asset Class in Global Meltdown – artmarketblog.com

Osian’s, today presented the 5th Six Monthly Disclosure Report (10 July 2008 – 9 January 2009) on behalf of the privately placed closed-ended Osian’s Art Fund (OAF). The Report establishes that the Osian’s Art Fund is one of the few investments providing a positive rate of return, more than 10.59% CAGR (post taxes) over the last 30 months, holding its own with relative stability, during the worse financial meltdown in global history.

In the current scenario, while Gold has emerged as the highest yielding asset class providing over 12.47% CAGR, followed by Debt Fund at 10.98% CAGR, the Osian’s Art Fund is only marginally behind (refer Attachment 1). The credibility of well managed, high quality art as an asset, for serious institutional investments, has now clearly emerged.

Mr. Neville Tuli, Founder-Chairman, Osian’s, said, “Today, we are close to achieving our first integrated global platform whereby the dual responsibilities of building great knowledge bases hand in hand with creating systematic wealth can be united on sustainable, accountable and transparent platforms. It will always be work in progress but the proximity of the bridge-building exercise is now clear for most to see.”

The Osian’s Art Fund, set up under the Indian Trusts Act, launched its first privately placed scheme Contemporary-1 on 10 July 2006, raising a corpus of Rs. 102.4 Cr. The Fund, a close-ended scheme with a lock in period of 36 months was open to investors only by private placement and the minimum investment was Rs.10 lac and then in multiples of Rs.5 lac.

The Fund attracted 656 investors from all over India. The top 10 cities from which the highest Osian’s client response was received were Delhi NCR (31.4%) followed by Mumbai (27.1), Kolkata (10.2%), Bangalore (8.8%), Chennai (7.9%), Hyderabad (3.9%), Surat (2.2%), Baroda (1.7%), Pune (0.9%) & Ahmedabad (0.8%). In totality, the Osian’s client base extended to 39 towns & cities, showing the national scale reach and interest. Out of the total number of investors about 82.72% had ventured into the area of investment in art for the very first time, though they were aware of Osian’s as an Auction House and Archive. Also, out of the total number of investors, 82.75% are individuals, 10.07 % are corporates and 7.18% are firms.

The Fund (as on 9 Jan 2009) has invested in a number of artists with a very well diversified portfolio based on their historical significance. These include the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) (20.92%), a Focus on Abstraction (17.20%), Calcutta Group & Painters (16.74%), a Figurative Focus (non PAG) (15.22%), Contemporary Art (8.33%), a Figurative Focus (Bengal) (6.17%), Cholamandal Artists (4.05%), a Figurative Focus (Delhi) (2.96%), Sculpture (2.78%), National Art Treasures (1.54%), Baroda School (1.11%) and Others (2.97%) (refer Attachment 2) V.S. Gaitonde, M.F. Husain & Akbar Padamsee are the three leading artists with the largest allocation.

High quality Indian art is more and more being seen as a credible asset, with many advantages over other assets. The Auction Sales turnover has taken a great leap from INR 133 millions in 1999 to INR 5527 millions in 2008, having achieved a growth of 51.26% CAGR.

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

Art Market Correction Statistics – artmarketblog.com

Art Market Correction Statistics – artmarketblog.com

Copyright@Artprice.com

Since the beginning of September, the art market has contracted for the first time since 1990. Although it survived 9/11, the meltdown of the global financial system has been too much for the “pleasure investment” market. The figures speak for themselves

Compared with January of this year, the average prices of publicly sold art works during October contracted 14.5% . Retrospectively, the end of 2007 – beginning of 2008 now looks like the market’s peak.
According to our data, the prices commanded by artists in all segments of the market – from the speculative top-end of the market to the affordable segments (<10,000 euros) – are being punished by the current context. Indeed, the value depreciation of “speculative” works tends to drag down values in the safer segments. Our figures show an equally strong impact in the small provincial auction rooms and at the major prestigious auction houses: since the beginning of October, the crisis has had a significant impact.

And nor is the ultra top-end of the market, where masterpieces change hands for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, exempt from this overall trend. Driven by demand from the nouveau riche in Asia, Russia and the Middle-East, prices were buoyant up until June. However, we see a clear contraction since the end of August. The bought-in rate has more than doubled in one year, growing from 25% at the end of 2007 to 54% in October 2008. Paradoxically, the prices of works presented above the 100,000 euros line (and which were successfully sold) have remained stable compared with the levels recorded 12 months earlier. On this segment of the market, bearing in mind the time lapse between the moment when works are valued and the final closing of the sales catalogues and orchestration of the sale, price adjustments are slow or inadequate. As reserve prices have not been adjusted to take into account the new market reality, the first expression of a new supply/demand equilibrium during periods of crisis is an increase in the bought-in rate.

Whereas the top-end of the market (4.1% of transactions) has shown relative price inertia, on the more dynamic segment of works offered for less than 100,000 euros, reactions have been more spontaneous: price adjustments are already underway. In this segment, the price index calculated using the repeated sales method has dropped 18% compared with October 2007!

The impact of the crisis has already spread around the world. Globalisation appears to be equally efficient in both directions; prices have contracted in New York, Paris and London – i.e. at the heart of the market – and in the new art market growth zones around Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai. The very latest results recorded in these new markets are extremely disappointing. Take for example the $16.9m overall revenue figure generated by Christie’s Middle East from its 29-30 October sales in Dubai compared with the $ 32 – 43m expected. In Hong-Kong in October 2007, Sotheby’s posted a bought-in rate below 10%. This year, at the same sales, this ratio was nearly 29%.

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

Betting on the Art Market Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

Betting on the Art Market Pt. 1 – artmarketblog.com

The reason that I invest in art and am involved with the art market is because I find investing in art to be extremely enjoyable, exciting, fun and interesting which is presumable the reason that most people invest in art. With this in mind I would like to hear your thoughts on a company that has managed to come up with a way of investing in the art market that seems to have removed all the fun, excitement, enjoyment and interest. The company in question is Intrade which is an online marketplace for the exchange of predictions on uncertain future events often called “prediction markets” or “event markets” which are more commonly known as futures. Intrade have recently announced that they have create the world’s first publicly traded futures contracts written on the global fine art market. See here:
http://www.intrade.com/jsp/intrade/common/c_cd.jsp?conDetailID=648715&z=1224114676836

The art market indicator that you are making a prediction on when you purchase a contract is the Mei Moses All Art Index which was created by Jianping Mei and Michael Moses whose website (artasanasset.com) states that “We have developed such a database for art that now has approximately 12,000 repeat sale pairs to which approximately an additional 1000 pairs are added each year. We use a statistical methodology to create our index which is similar to that developed by Professors Case and Shiller for their residential real estate index published by Standard and Poor’s.” SInce the Mei Moses website doesn’t explain what a sale pair is I went to the website of Standard and Poor’s where the methodology of the sale pair as used in both the Case and Shiller real estate index and the Mei Moses index is explained as “Each sale price is considered a data point. When a specific home is resold, months or years later, the new sale price is matched to the home’s first sale price. These two data points are called a “sale pair.” The difference in the sale pair is measured and recorded. All the sales pairs in a region are then aggregated into one index. Sales pairs are
carefully screened for any data points that would distort the index.” Basically what this means is that Mei Moses index charts the difference between the original sale price of an artwork and the most recent sale price.

When you make a prediction with Intrade regarding the Mei Moses index you are predicting what the value of the index will be on the 6th of Jan 2009 at 12:00PM ET when the index is next updated. The Intrade website explains the transactions that take place in relation to the Mei Moses index as such:

“A contract will expire according to the value of the Mei Moses All Art Index as calculated by Beautiful Asset Advisors (BAA) and published simultaneously at http://www.artasanasset.com and Intrade on the 6th of Jan 2009 at 12:00PM ET. The Mei Moses All Art Index uses repeat sale pair method to measure the performance of the global fine art market. More info is available at http://www.artasanasset.com. These contracts will expire with a dollar value of $ (2008 value of Mei Moses All Art Index) / 10. For example, if the 2008 index value printed on Jan X at X pm ET is 280, each contract shall expire with value $28.00. Profit and loss will be calculated as the difference between the trade price and the expiry price. For example, if you bought contracts at a price of $30.00 and the expiry value is $31.00, your profit will be $1.00 per contract. If you sold contracts at a price of $30.00 and the expiry value is $29.00, your loss will be $1.00 per contract.” (intrade.com)

To be continued….

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

Danger of Careless Art Market Talk – artmarketblog.com

Danger of Careless Art Market Talk – artmarketblog.com

A Sotheby’s auction here in Australia on the 26th of August did not go as well as was anticipated with just less than half of the works selling and a final sales figure of AUD$5.77 million without buyers premium against an estimate of $9-$12 million. According to an article in the Australian newspaper, Georgina Pemberton, Sotheby’s head of paintings, described last night’s result as “a reflection of our economic climate and we are now going through a correction in the art market” After making this comment to the Australian newspaper, Georgina then went on to make the following comment regarding the auction to Bloomberg news “Some of the collectors are becoming more conservative, but overall the art market is still very strong”. Hmmm, seems like someone doesn’t know whether they are coming or going.

Other than the fact that these two statements contradict themselves, stating that the market is currently experiencing a correction that is seemingly based on this one sale is rather silly. A market correction is generally understood to mean a drop of between 10% and 20% in a financial market over a short period of time which would require a general market downward trend. Taking into consideration that there has been very little indication that the market is losing strength other than the Sotheby’s auction and that there are no figures relating to the definition of a market correction to back this statement up, to state that the market is experiencing a correction is very premature and at this point, incorrect.

Further evidence that the market is not in a correction came from an auction that took place the next evening by Bonhams and Goodman which experienced a far different result to Sothebys. According to the Bonhams and Goodman website “Record numbers had inspected the paintings at viewings in Sydney and Melbourne, with over 1500 people attending the auction venues, 30% up on the numbers for April. On auction night 250 people packed the Prahran saleroom to see Masterpieces of Australian Art from The Julian & Miriam Sterling Collection sell for $1,976,000 (including buyer’s premium), well over the lower estimate published in the catalogue. The sale of the Australian Fine Art catalogue contributed another $3 million to the result. ” Geoffrey Smith, Director & National Head of Art at Bonhams and Goodman went on to comment that “It was our most successful sale ever.” In total $4.9 million of art was sold against a lower estimate of $3.6 million although interestingly, only 49% of works sold which was the same percentage of works that sold at the Sotheby’s auction. What these results do show is that people are paying more money for the best works and that, although the sale rates may give the appearance of a correction, an proper analysis of the whole market points to more of a market transformation (ie. a change in buying trends and habits as opposed to a down-turn)

Another telling indication that the problem may be with Sotheby’s and not the market is the fact that only around 150 reportedly turned up at the Sotheby’s auction compared with 250 at the Bonhams and Goodman auction. With several more important art auction scheduled in Australia over the coming weeks it will be interesting to see what the results will be.

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

Damien Hirst Screws Himself – artmarketblog.com

Damien Hirst Screws Himself – artmarketblog.com

On the 15th and 16th of September a total of 223 previously unsold works by Damien Hirst will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s. The collection consists mainly of different versions of Hirst’s most iconic concepts including versions of his spot paintings, spin paintings, butterfly paintings, medicine cabinets, formaldehyde works and photo realist paintings.

In continuation from my previous post on this auction I have conducted some further research on Damien Hirst and the market for his work which resulted in some rather interesting results. The online art auction result database Artprice.com lists a total of 1013 Damien Hirst works sold at auction since 1992, 169 of which were auctioned in 2007 which means that the Sotheby’s auction of 223 Damien Hirst works will account for more than a years worth of auction results. Comparatively, Jeff Koons, who is 10 years Damien’s senior, only has 524 auction recorded auction results since 1991.

The fact that Hirst has made the decision to sell at auction partly because the commission rates charged by an auction house are lower than those charged by most galleries suggests that his motivation is mostly, if not purely, financial. Although the demand for Hirst’s work is very high there are already plenty of works on the market due to the huge number of works that Hirst produces. This makes me wonder how many people will be buying from this auction purely because of the nature of the sale as opposed to the quality, price or attraction of the work on offer. I would say probably lots. If there are lots of people buying purely as a result of the nature of the sale then this could result in people buying works from this auction at inflated prices created by a false perception of scarcity and immediacy created by Sothebys when in fact there are already plenty of Hirst works available for sale elsewhere.

There are basically two different outcomes for this auction both of which I perceive as being potentially detrimental to Hirst’s career. Firstly, a successful sale where a majority of the works are sold for above estimate will result in a glut of Damien Hirst works being thrust onto the market which could well result in the demand and desirability Hirst’s work to drop due to the availability of works increasing dramatically. The effect that the sale of these works will have on the market for Hirst’s work depends on how many people are purchasing with the intention of on-selling within a short period of time. Scenario number two is that the sale goes terribly which would of course result in Hirst’s reputation and value dropping.

To be continued….

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