Art: a special business

The epidemic has not brought the field of art to the ground. In people’s minds, art, the realm of dreams, has little to do with business, and yet … Although few entrepreneurs still enter this market, it turns out to be very thriving. Small galleries have sometimes become big companies and some artists are now world famous. Art not only stops at works, it is also sales, marketing and networking.

A very thriving market

According to the latest report on the online art market, published in July by Hiscox, the digital transactions from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips generated $ 370 million (313 million euros) in the first half of 2020, ie. more five times more than for the same period in 2019

After some rather difficult years, the art market is finding a new life. In 2015 and 2016, there was a sharp decline of -10% and -23% in the art market. The year 2017 was able to increase with a growth of 20%. Thanks to large fortunes worldwide and works that sell better, at exorbitant prices, a real craze has arisen. The growth continues with millionaires and billionaires reproducing and very often dedicated to the purchase of excellent works. Especially because the entire globe is concerned, buyers from all over the world flock to auctions or even private sales. They are not the only ones coming from all continents but also companies. In 2017, China first went on sale worldwide with 5.1 billion, the United States achieved second place and France was only fourth with 5% of global revenue.

If such growth took place in 2017, it is primarily because buyers from all walks of life have diversified demand. They are passionate about art and generally prefer to limit themselves to works of their national heritage. But the large art market has such diversity that buyers no longer hesitate to buy works that they had not targeted before.

According to Julie Hugues, Art Market and Private Client Manager Hiscox “

However, Covid-19 seems to rearrange the cards and could act as a catalyst, giving both new impetus and breath to online sales. We look forward to seeing how the market will develop in the coming months and years to come. ”.

In 2019, sales of the online art market reached approx. $ 4.82 billion, an increase of 4% from the $ 4.64 recorded in 2018. Admittedly, there is a slowdown in the global art market. art, 80% of online art platforms predict an increase in online sales over the next 12 months. 65% said they expect the pandemic to have a permanent and significant impact on the industry.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s: two big giants

The impact of Covid-19 has accelerated online sales: Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips’ online auctions generated $ 370 million (329.3 million euros) in the first half of 2020, ie. 436% more than in the same period in 2019. Online sales represented 28.3% of the total sales of these three players in the first half of 2020 against only 1.2% in 2019.

If the business is doing well in the art market, it is also thanks to two global companies that have a large share of the market. They have been competing for several years and continue to expose excessive sales. The more notable of the two, Christie’s, stood out in 2017 with a sale that drew headlines. That of the famous “Salvador Mundi”, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci sold for $ 450.3 million. The staggering sales made it possible to choose between Christie’s and Sotheby’s on the prize list. The two companies are the best known in the art market and sell famous works that are sold to billionaires. But Christie’s is taking the lead thanks to its leadership in all areas, it achieved a 53% increase in sales in 2017.

These two large houses have stood together for several years. They represent the image of the art market and its success. While art does not appeal to its entrepreneurial side, Christie’s and Sotheby’s are the very proof that companies exist and stand out in the field. Every year they achieve amazing numbers, and Sotheby’s, the New Yorker is even listed.

Small Business: Galleries

Art becomes a seller and some have understood this. All over the world, art galleries are multiplying visibly. They sometimes present very famous works that can provide big money, but also small artists who take their first steps. In the art market, sales are the primary activity, but many gallery owners have in recent years refused to see any form of industrialization. According to Georges Philippe Valois, chairman of the professional committee for art galleries, some “do not bother with production or catalog costs and have an unrestrained speech as a clothing salesman” (comment collected by Le Monde). Art lovers rightly criticize these gallery owners for promoting the artist’s side instead of favoring the work and the emotions it releases. They specify to customers what the works will be worth in ten or twenty years without necessarily focusing on what they represent. The remarks have been merging since the democratization of the purchase of works of art. This market, by its lucrative side, attracts many people who do not always have a taste for art, but for profit. Of course, it is more advantageous for a gallery to be profitable, but the big gallery owners criticize others for focusing only on economic attraction. This situation also comes from lack of artistic education of some clients. Sometimes they prefer to store in works instead of putting envy and emotion into it.

A lucrative but special market

Admittedly, the art market is becoming lucrative, but since the advent of giants like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, some see it as a lucrative business without the emotional appeal. In an interview with the newspaper Les Echos, the general manager of Christie’s, François Pinault, prefers to see in it a globalization phenomenon. Market participants need to expand internationally, giving rise to a phenomenon of celebrity for art and procurement multiplying. During the “Salvador Mundi” auction, 450,000 people were present on Facebook live.
Like all sectors, art is becoming more democratic, not necessarily for the wallet, but for mentalities. As it grows more and more, the number of artists also doubled during the growth in 2017.

For some it’s just a business, for others it’s a passion that pays off. Although fruitful, art remains a special field that does not have the same criteria and specificities as the other sectors. It is reserved for a certain elite, and creating a business in this area can be insane. But it is not impossible to surround yourself with the right experts and a well-stocked address book can help you get started.

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