Supply and demand put prices in frame
The international art scene ended last year with a bang when it witnessed the sale of the world’s most expensive painting.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was bought for $450.3 million at Christie’s New York auction in November. Saudi Prince Badr Abdullah Mohammed Farhan Al Saud bought it on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.
Impressive as the price was, industry experts said it will take more than an artist’s reputation to inflate the price for any work of art.
Christoph Noe, founder of art advisory company The Ministry of Art, said: “An art market is like any other market. It’s about supply and demand.”
He said collectors’ finances will dictate when they buy, what they want to buy and how much they are willing to spend.
He added that since a top work of art is unique, all it takes to see the price rise is bids from two high-net-worth individuals.
The 2014 Christie’s New York auction for an untitled Martin Kippenberger self-portrait is a case in point. The German artist’s painting had a presale estimate of between $9 million and $12 million. It sold for $18.6 million after a heated battle between two phone bidders.
The buyer was businesswoman Zhang Lan, founder of the South Beauty Group chain of upscale restaurants and one of China’s biggest art collectors. Christoph Noe,
Leo Xu, a director of the David Zwirner Gallery in Hong Kong, said a gallery prices an artwork based on the artist’s “institutional reputation”.
“How many museum shows or biennales has he participated in? How many solo shows has he held? Is there any major art publication that covered his exhibits?” he said.
The works of Zhang Xiaogang have set records at international auctions. His 1988 triptych oil work Forever Lasting Love sold for $10.1 million at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2011. In 2014, Zhang’s Bloodline: Big Family No. 3 sold at Sotheby’s in the city for $12.1 million.
While the prices for Zhang’s works may have raised eyebrows, the surrealist artist honed his craft for more than two decades before reaching the top.
No novice artist, no matter how gifted, can immediately charge eye-popping prices. But Xu said that if an artist patiently develops his or her career by launching exhibits, joining art expos and getting media coverage, then prices for works will rise accordingly.
Julia Ip, an art business lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, said that apart from credentials, artists’ character will also determine their status — and ultimately their artworks’ prices — in the market.
An art market is like any other market. It’s about supply and demand.”
founder of art advisory company The Ministry of Art