A weak pound means a strong contemporary art investment market in London

06 June 2017|investment |James Nicholls

A weak pound means a strong contemporary art investment market in London

Brexit is becoming an ongoing drama across many markets in Britain. However, it’s not necessarily all bad news. Every cloud has its silver lining, and in this case, London’s contemporary art investment market seems to be flourishing as far as auctions go.

So, why does the British capital still remain the place to buy and sell contemporary art?

Auction figures don’t lie

According to the New York Times, three major contemporary art auctions in London throughout March achieved a total of £229 million, roughly $280 million. This is a sharp year-on-year increase from the £152 million raised in February 2016.

The sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips implied that the contemporary art investment market in London is alive and well, as collectors remain eager to spend money in the UK.

At the Christie’s auction, for instance, 95 percent of the works on offer were snapped up. “The market is healthy,” explained Philippe Ségalot, a private dealer in New York. “There are more buyers than sellers.”

Do auctions reflect the wider contemporary art investment market?

“Auctions are always the barometer of the market,” said Alexander Platon, a senior director at Marlborough Fine Art.

Platon argues that these London sales were a reflection of the modern buyer’s tastes, and this therefore suggests that contemporary art investment is becoming increasingly popular.

We’ve discussed this trend before, as more and more people move to favour contemporary art over purchasing works of more traditional genres. In fact, the 2016 Tefaf Art Market Report found that sales of works by old masters fell by 33 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

The reasons for this trend

The rise of the art investment market in London can be attributed to a combination of elements, including a rally on global stock market. “There’s so much creation of wealth,” international dealer Thaddaeus Ropac explains, “the art market always gets a fraction of it.”

Perhaps more important, though, is the weakness of the pound in comparison to other currencies. Since the British referendum, the weakening of the national currency has made items being auctioned more attractive to overseas buyers. As a result, bidding in auctions by telephone has become more commonplace than ever before.

So is this good news for London’s contemporary art investment market?

As we’ve previously discussed, London seems set to remain a global destination for contemporary art investment, even if Brexit does throw a spanner in the works.

Perhaps, as contemporary art dealer Thaddaeus Ropac optimistically declared to the New York Times: “Brexit is a technicality.”

“London is London. The museums are here. The auction houses are here. The best galleries in the world are here. I do not see another city taking London’s place.”

London is known around the world for having one of the best collections of contemporary art galleries, and the city also carries a huge history of artistic and cultural significance.

Britain also produces so many brilliant contemporary artists, such as Dan Baldwin, Bran Symondson and Robi Walters to name just a few. In addition, it attracts other artists from every continent, who take inspiration from British art, history and culture. Maddox Gallery is proud to represent several international artists who have made London their second home.

It’s our firm belief that London will continue to be a global centre for contemporary art investment. That’s why we have two galleries based in Mayfair, in the heart of the city’s historical art district, welcoming in visitors from all around the globe. If you would like to experience in person what the contemporary art investment market in London has to offer, please do pay us a visit at our gallery in Maddox Street or in Shepherd Market, Mayfair.

If you want to learn more about investing in contemporary art, take a look at ‘The Six Key Factors to Consider When Making an Art Investment.’ To find out more about any of our represented artists, please contact Maddox Gallery. Our Sotheby’s-trained art consultants will be happy to provide expert advice.

Written by James Nicholls, Chairman, Maddox Gallery.

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