3 Factors Affecting the Art Market in 2016

Happy  New Year!  I thought the turning of the calendar to a new year was a great time for us to take a look at trends and events we think will affect the western art market in the upcoming year.  Stay tuned for the 2016 auction calendar of events, museums to visit, artists to watch in both the historical Western market and contemporary Western market, and of course, ideas and art news on building a valuable lasting collection.  Let me begin with three factors I think will affect the Western art market in 2016.

Black Gold by Andy Thomas
The first factor is the price of oil.  While there are some in the market who will disagree, I think this is by far the biggest factor to impact not only prices but the supply of western art to hit the market.  Over the last few years many of the new collectors that have come into the market have been from the oil sector.  We have seen this trend in our dealings at the Charles Russell western art week in Great Falls, various auctions, and through my conversations with collectors. New found wealth from North Dakota has provided new buyers the last few years. The question is will those buyers be back?

The second factor is the rise of more art auctions specializing in Western art.  While The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction remains the premier auction, with the Scottsdale sale following them, there have been several new auctions hitting the scene including the Fredericksburg auction, Great American West auction, and a renewed focus on classic Western art by larger auction houses like Christies, Sothebys, Bonhams and Heritage. All of these sales are fighting for top quality works and there just aren't enough great paintings to go around.  In our circle of collectors, we hear more and more grumbling because of the high premiums charged to both the buyer and sellers (in fact - the commissions I charge to liquidate a collection or a single painting is often less than most auctions houses charge). I've also noticed the buy-in rate or pass rate at auctions is increasing.  Academic research by Beggs and Graddy shows that a pass on a painting at auction will in effect have a 30% decline in the value of the painting.  Another effect from the glut of auctions is the amount of sub-par works that are being offered.

Finally, the third factor is the increased competition for quality works by sought after artists.  Where getting works to their galleries used to be a high priority for artists, now there are museum shows, the above mentioned auctions, and an increased number of commissions.  As the collection factors for artists grow, so do the demands placed on them.  Whether you're purchasing from a gallery, auction, museum show, or directly from the artist, explore all your options when acquiring new works.  Lean on your trusted resources in the industry, and as I always say, don't hesitate to pull the trigger!

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