The S&P 500 and the Dax have risen strongly following their crash in March this year. The art market, however, is still in free fall. Auction sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips plummeted by 49 per cent against last year to just USD 2.9 billion for the first half of 2020, according to ArtTactic Report Summer 2020. At the same time, online sales for the same period rose a whopping 436 per cent to USD 370 million, as calculated by Hiscox Online Trade Report 2020.
During the second quarter in 2020, the top tree public auction houses — Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips — saw 79 per cent year-over-year collapse in revenue: from USD 4.4 billion to USD 0.9 according to a report by Pi-eX. This revenue breakdown was more dramatic than the one that followed the financial and economic crisis 2008/2009, when auction revenues fell from USD 4.8 billion in Q2 2008 to USD 1.6 billion in Q2 2009. These numbers are probably just the beginning: The Corona crisis is hitting the international art market particularly hard.
The key question for buyers is this: Strike now or wait further? Well, I think there are good reasons to assume that the art market has not reached rock bottom yet; that blue-chip works by the most sought-after Top 10 artists will be available at even cheaper prices. In the past, the art market has always reacted with a considerable time-lag to crises of the financial and economic system. For instance, after the crash in 2008/2009, the slump in the art market did not come until fall 2009.
Stay tuned — and keep patiently waiting for the right time to buy!
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