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Art market predictions for 2017

6 January 2017

Apollo’s regular round-up of art market headlines and comment. To kick off the year, seven industry figures look back at the major art market surprises of 2016 and place their bets for the year ahead. Visit Apollo Collector Services for expert advice on navigating the art market. 

Jussi Pylkkanen
President of Europe and the Middle East, Christie’s

Jussi Pylkkanen, President of Europe and the Middle East, Christie's

Jussi Pylkkanen, President of Europe and the Middle East, Christie’s

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

That an Old Master, Rubens’ Lot and His Daughters, came dangerously close to being the most expensive painting sold at auction all year. It was eventually edged into third place by a great Monet and a market-making De Kooning (which was the picture that defined the shift in taste to Post-War a decade ago). However the historic pair of Rembrandts, which sold privately to the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum actually made Christie’s biggest price of the year, so Old Masters came out on top in the end. Moral of the story: The art world is very simple, in any era and in any economic climate, the greatest artworks by the greatest artists generate record prices – forget the period. In 2017, Rembrandt eclipsed Monet, De Kooning and Rubens.

A prediction for 2017?

Significant paintings will come to market in 2017 and break records for leading artists. This is a seller’s market and with a constrained supply, buyers will compete heavily for the best.

What would you bet £50 won’t happen in 2017?

That the Chinese market will falter – Asian collectors are set to be the biggest buyers in 2017.

Melanie Gerlis
Financial Times art market correspondent

Melanie Gerlis, art market columnist, Financial Times

Melanie Gerlis, art market columnist, Financial Times

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

For me the biggest surprise happened less than a fortnight into the year: Sotheby’s spending $50 million upfront (potentially $85 million) on essentially three people, when it bought the art advisory business Art Agency, Partners.

A prediction for 2017?

That one major auction house ­– Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Phillips – will change ownership.

What would you bet £50 won’t happen in 2017?

I would bet £500 on the fact that transparency won’t particularly improve in the art market in 2017. For all the talk about big data and breaking down the private market barriers, it’s going to take longer than 12 months.

Isabelle Paagman
European Head of Private Sales, Contemporary, Sotheby’s

Isabelle Paagman, European Head of Private Sales, Contemporary, Sotheby’s

Isabelle Paagman, European Head of Private Sales, Contemporary, Sotheby’s

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

2016 was a year of surprises, with political events both in Europe and the US, but the resilience of the art market despite such great uncertainty really stood out. On a personal note, arriving at work and seeing queues around the block in anticipation of the Bowie exhibition was an unexpected treat.

A prediction for 2017?

I’m confident we’ll see a tremendous year for women artists at the very top of the art market, building on recent outstanding results such as the remarkable Jenny Saville canvas that captivated the room at our contemporary auction in London last June.

What would you bet £50 won’t happen in 2017?

Whatever surprises 2017 might have in might have in store, there certainly won’t be any shortage of exciting and thought-provoking new art. With both the Venice Biennale and Documenta opening in the spring we’ll see new artistic talents emerge, and compelling exhibitions that respond to the momentous social and political changes taking place across the globe.

Patrick van Maris
CEO of TEFAF

Patrick van Maris, CEO of TEFAF, Photography: Bodine Koopmans

Patrick van Maris, CEO of TEFAF. Photograph: Bodine Koopmans

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

We were always confident the launch of TEFAF New York would be successful, however the feedback from our exhibitors, the collectors and the international press exceeded our wildest expectations. It felt like a true triumph. New York City and TEFAF prove to be a match made in art market heaven.

A prediction for 2017?

In 2017 we will see further consolidation with an even stronger emphasis on quality and authenticity.

What would you bet £50 wont happen in 2017?

I think Brexit will not have a negative impact on London as the number one European art trading hub. 

Edward Dolman
Chairman and CEO, Phillips

Edward Dolman, Chairman and CEO, Phillips

Edward Dolman, Chairman and CEO, Phillips

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

Despite being a year of consolidation, our evening auctions in New York, London and Hong Kong did not pass by without excitement. Phillips tested the masterpiece market with a famously vandalised Roy Lichtenstein, Nudes in Mirror [1994] which had undergone a meticulous restoration and sold for $21.5 million.

A prediction for 2017?

Regardless of a smaller supply, we saw increased strength in active participation across our sales which leads us to believe 2017 will be a stronger year. This will be particularly notable in Asia, as we continue to see a significant transformation in the buying habits of Asian collectors, who are becoming increasingly interested in art from around the world.

What would you bet £50 won’t happen in 2017?

Despite continued political and economic uncertainty, I would bet that art sales in 2017 will not be less than 2016. I expect the market to return to growth.

Kate Bryan
Head of Collections, Soho House and Co.

Kate Bryan, Head of Collections, Soho House and Co.

Kate Bryan, Head of Collections, Soho House and Co.

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

How little the overall health of the market was affected by the combined doom of Brexit and Trump! Yes, there was a clear downturn that was well documented but upon reflection I am astounded at the general resilience of the global contemporary art market – we have never seen an age like this.

A prediction for 2017?

The continued growth of Latin American art markets, and rightfully so. There were new records set in 2016 in the major auctions houses. More interestingly, on a local level I saw more gallery shows, talk about art fairs in the region and a better understanding of and attitude toward this market generally.

What would you bet £50 won’t happen in 2017?

Collectors crying out ‘we need more art fairs’ and artists proclaiming ‘I wish Donald Trump would be my Pope Julius II’.

Matthew Girling
Global CEO of Bonhams

Matthew Girling, Global CEO, Bonhams

Matthew Girling, Global CEO, Bonhams

Your biggest surprise of 2016?

I knew that the Chinese art market would bounce back, but was greatly heartened by the strength of its recovery.

A prediction for 2017?

From my viewpoint in New York I predict that the ultra high net worth individuals will still look to art as a great place to invest their money despite the uncertainty, but there will be an extra emphasis on quality, connoisseurship and provenance. Also that areas that are currently undervalued – such as Op Art and the work of women artists – will continue their steady march upwards.

What would you bet £50 won’t happen in 2017?

If we’ve learnt anything from 2016, it is that all bets are off!

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