Art Trading Returned to Peak Levels in 2011, Says Skates

George Bellows, Dock Builders, 1916.
George Bellows, Dock Builders, 1916, brought $3.89 million, making it the top lot of Sotheby's May 2011 American art sale.
(Sotheby's)
Sold for $1.6 million from Galerie Michael Schultz at Art Miami, Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild, 2001, oil on aludibond, 19 1⁄2 x 28 1⁄2 inches.
Sold for $1.6 million from Galerie Michael Schultz at Art Miami, Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild, 2001, oil on aludibond, 19 1⁄2 x 28 1⁄2 inches.
  • Mark Rothko's Untitled No.  17 (est.  $18-22m) sold for $33.68m at Christie's in May 2011.

    Mark Rothko's Untitled No. 17 (est. $18-22m) sold for $33.68m at Christie's in May 2011.

    Christie's International

Art trading volumes grew close to $80 billion for 2011, achieving peak levels previously seen in 2006-2007, according to Skates Annual Art Investment Report.

The figure was boosted by over 2,000 transactions completed on the auction market involving artworks priced at $1 million or more per work, and a similar number of high-end sales completed by galleries and during art fairs, says Skates.

Bloomberg reports that the contemporary-art market surged by 35 percent in 2011’s auctions as wealthy buyers increasingly sought alternative investments. Sotheby’s and Christie’s International achieved a combined total of $1.7 billion from evening sales, according to Bloomberg News.

For 2012, art market trends may include galleries and dealers gravitating more towards  e-commerce platforms to increase sales.

Museum-led securitizations may expand the art funds industry from $1 billion to $10 billion in a few years time.

Skates' report reads that museums "will instead be seen as government-owned treasuries that can help balance government deficits by using capital markets and modern finances to unlock the value of their vaults without necessarily selling significant volumes of art treasures (“de-accessioning” in museum terminology). Cash from capital markets can be used to finance museum budget deficits."

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