The stock market is ever volatile and the specter inflation is ever present, while ultra-rich investors are sitting on mountains of cash. Art markets have also been a big beneficiary of growing Asian wealth.
“The art market is ignoring European woes,” Randy Slifka, a New York collector and money manager told Bloomberg. “People feel comfortable buying prime works by world-class artists.”
“At the moment property in Asia, not just in Hong Kong, has just topped out in a way. Stocks have obviously been very volatile over the last few years, to say the least, so people are looking to put their money in new asset classes,” Jon Reade, the managing director of Art Futures Group in Hong Kong, told CBS.
Reade believes a lot of the money is pouring in from China. “They’re buying property; they’re buying cars and they’re looking for new asset classes to get involved with,” he said.
The net result is too much cash chasing select works by recognized masters as evidenced by the sale of Edvard Munch’s iconic “The Scream” for $119.9 million, the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Among the other eye-popping sales, Lichtenstein’s “Sleeping Girl,” was auctioned for $44.8 million; Warhol’s “Double Elvis (Ferus Type),” of Elvis Presley depicted as a cowboy, sold for $37 million and Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” sold for $87 million.
Francis Bacon’s “Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror” sold for $44.9 million. The artist’s Triptych was the previous record holder at at $86.2 million.
“This was an historic event in the auction world, with three major records set in the space of a few short hours,” said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art in a statement.
Of the top 10 works sold at the Christie’s auction, eight buyers were listed as “anonymous,” and two were private buyers from Europe and the United States.