16 Jun 2009

Is the art market on a recovery path?

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

There are faint indications that interest in art is once again on the rise. With the stock market improving in the last few weeks, there is a perceptible change in the financial situation and buyers are now showing a renewed interest in art. As financial markets are invariably interlinked, it is not surprising that once again attention is shifting to art. Although, the change is marginal, yet it is a good sign compared to the past several months where conditions had worsened to the extent that footfalls and sales in galleries were close to negligible. Most auctions that took place in this interim phase too performed poorly.

At least now, there are enquiries about interesting shows and specific artists. Although, this is still very early to predict if the market is on the revival path, there is a strong possibility that things could improve. It is still early days and how much of this interest translates into financial tractions one will have to wait and watch.

It also appears that this time, buyers are likely to be more cautious in investing heavily in art. In the recent past, there were several instances where investors found it difficult to off load their artworks at the prices at which they had bought. Readers will remember that in the last couple of years, art prices were at an all time high and it was not easy for investors to exit during the recession that followed soon after. Investors who had held onto their works are in fact in a better shape, as with the improvement in the financial markets, art prices too will rise.

Investors who have gone through this ‘boom and bust’ period will now tread cautiously. According to most analysts, it is unlikely that art prices will witness a similar short term surge in the near future, but as a long investment art should still be a fairly safe option.

(Published in Financial Times on Jun 14, 2009)

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