Who Buys Art?

This WSJ report on the state of the art market now is totally fascinating. ART: SOME PEOPLE BUY IT. But who? “Brazil is gathering steam [and] … the Caucasus, those oil-rich countries rimming the Caspian Sea. Christie’s is prospecting heavily in Azerbaijan this season, shopping its Picassos at an event held last month in Baku’s new Four Seasons Hotel.” China has been a big player in recent years, but its “cooling” economy is expected to hit the art world. “Michael Frahm, a London-based art adviser who specializes in new Asian art, said private sales of Asian contemporary art approached a standstill this summer. ‘It’s worrying,’ he said.” 

The report also gives an overview of the markets for different types of art. Famous works by famous artists bring up the rest of the market (for example, “Sotheby’s got nearly $120 million for Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ in May but the sale didn’t help four lesser Munchs that have since come to market and bombed.”) But jewelry sales are up 19%—”Christie’s has sold $305 million worth of jewelry in the first half of this year—as much as it sold during all of 2009.” Gems are “universally prized, and therefore easier to resell.”



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