FROM YACHTS TO OLD MASTERS How investment helped the art market weather the economic crisis

  • HELVOIRT, Netherlands
  • /
  • February 26, 2010

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Pieter Bruegel the Younger, The Indoor Wedding Dance, 1622 To be exhibited by De Jonckheere, Paris at TEFAF Maastricht 2010
TEFAF Maastricht


A change in luxury spending habits caused by the recession has helped the international art and antiques market weather the global economic storm. This is revealed by a new report commissioned by The European Fine Art Foundation which organises The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) to be held in the Dutch city of Maastricht in the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre) from March 12-21, 2010. The report The International Art Market 2007-2009, Trends in the Art Trade during Global Recession has been prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew, a cultural economist specialising in the fine and decorative art market and founder of Arts Economics. The price of the report is €15 and can be ordered at (click on shop).

Wealthy buyers have been moving away from expensive cars, yachts and jets in favor of assets with long-term tangible value such as art and antiques. These ‘investments of passion’ have meant that, although the world market in art and antiques has suffered during the economic downturn, it has performed far better than expected.

“As economically recessive conditions in many countries have led to a reduction in incomes, demand for and consumption of many luxury goods has also contracted,” says the report, the latest in a series of important annual studies commissioned by TEFAF. It adds that the world financial crisis produced a drop in the number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) – people with investable assets of at least US$1 million. Nevertheless the share of art in HNWIs-‘investments of passion’ actually rose from 20% in 2006 to 25% in 2008, as investors looked to find assets that had a more enduring value.

“The geographical distribution of wealth has also worked in favour of the art market. While most of the older Western economies are currently in recession, many of the new art markets are still showing positive growth, with China and India at rates of 9% and 6% respectively in 2009.”

Among the key findings of the report (p. 15-17) are:

§  In 2008, total sales in the global market for fine and decorative art reached just over €42.2 billion, down over 12% from its peak in 2007 of €48.1 billion. In 2009, sales are estimated to have slipped further, dropping by about 26% to €31.3 billion. However sales in 2009 are still well above any year of the arts market’s history before 2006.


§  Just under 50% of the value of all transactions in the global market took place in the EU in 2008, which then achieved a total market turnover of €20.7 billion.


§  The US and UK continued to dominate the global art and antiques market in 2008, with a share of respectively 35% and 34% of the value of all transactions.


§  China has continued to gain share in the global market. Since 2007, it achieved the third largest sales worldwide. The Chinese art market bucked the trend in the rest of the world and increased aggregate sales in 2009 by 12%, boosting its share of the global art market to 14% (US 30%, UK 29%).


§  The auction market for Contemporary art grew from €92 million in 2002 to €915 million in 2008. Just as it had been a leader in the expansive phase of the art market, the Contemporary sector has also fared worse than other sectors, dropping by 60% to €378 million.


§  More traditional categories have performed well throughout the last few years. Old Master paintings, for example, are now regarded as a strong sector in which to collect and invest.


TEFAF Maastricht:

The world’s most influential art and antiques fair will have a record number of 263 exhibitors from 17 countries when it opens at the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Center) in the southern Netherlands from March 12-21, 2010. Exhibitors will show some 30,000 works of art and antiques, covering some 5,000 years of history, including modern and contemporary art.


AXA Art is the principal sponsor of TEFAF:

AXA Art's partnership with TEFAF provides an important platform to profile the company's expertise to the art collecting community and to bring attention to subjects of collection management, such as the fragility of art objects and important strategies to maintain a collection in optimum condition.


Note for editors:
For more information on the contents of the report please contact Dr Clare McAndrew. E-mail: Telephone: +353 87 9119013.


Go to under PRESS for press releases and high resolution images.

For more information on TEFAF please contact:



Leah Talatinian

215 Park Avenue South, Suite 2005

New York, NY 10003, USA

Tel: +1 (0)917-720 1279

Fax +1 (0)212 370 9507



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