Earlier today Bloomberg reported that a recent survey among dealers and advisers predicted that highly desirable works by contemporary artists could surge as much as 30% in 2010. Lucian Freud was mentioned as the most likely artist to see record-breaking prices, with Philip Hoffman, CEO of the London-based Fine Art Fund, saying, “We’ve got clients prepared to pay for top works by proven artists like Freud…They can’t be bothered with the rest. World records will be achieved.”
Among the other findings in the survey: increased volume at auctions, several years for prices on works of average quality to recover and growth for artists from China, India and the Middle East.
“Chinese art is a powerhouse and I think you’ll see serious money spent, especially for classic artists such as Zao Wou Ki,” said Ben Brown, a London-based dealer. “You’ll also see more and more Asians buying Western art.”
Forecasting art prices is always a tricky undertaking, and we would be very reluctant to make concrete predictions for individual artists like Freud. A 30% increase strikes us as overly optimistic, especially during a period of protracted economic weakness when art buyers’ appetite for risk will continue to be hampered. Premium contemporary artists will more likely than not hold their own in 2010 – certainly not suffering great declines – but Skate’s looks for continued strength in older works, particularly those by the Old Masters and Impressionists. Given the stronger economic recovery underway in Asia, we fully agree with the survey finding that works by Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern artists will experience strong growth.