Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Is art a defensive purchase?

Artvest co-founder, Michael Plummer, stated at the recent Art Investment Council discussion mentioned that the scenario can play out very fast. Explaining his point, the expert pointed out, “In the fall of 1990, I was at a contemporary art auction at Sotheby’s. In that one night, the market crashed. Suddenly, half the lots didn’t sell and very important paintings were bought in. The same happened again in the fall of 2008.”

However, the current indicators seem pretty solid as underlined by the ambitious Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary sales that took place last in June in London. They produced decent results (if not amazing). What about the broader art market in context of quantitative easing program or its withdrawal, though?

Trying to draw a picture of her own, Tully mentions: “If art is supposed to be defensive purchase as well a safe haven and the Fed is signaling that the economy is finally doing better, shouldn’t people be selling their Warhols and opting for growth stocks?  After all, the gold and silver prices have also plummeted recently and everyone loves to lump Silver, Wine, Art & Gold (SWAG assets) in the same bucket.”

So how will be the longer-term trend like? Will the stock market crash and continue to do well, while the art market strengthens as an anti-dote or vice versa? The market watcher feels that even while some buyers consider art more as ‘a safe haven’, there are many others who purchase it since they are of confident of racking up massive returns.

And the more the latter motivation comes to surface in the contemporary art market, the more it will get correlated to equities. On the contrary, even more will continue buying art simply because they genuinely love it. And until they do not any longer have the means at their disposal to take it home, come what may, they will continue buying.

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