Christies, Sotheby's art auctions offer new buyers 'alternative to shares'

An influx of new investors is thought to be behind booming figures witnessed by Christie's and Sotheby's at the top end of the art auctions market.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Christie's and Sotheby's sold a combined $1.7bn of art during their evening sales in 2011, a rise of $500m on 2010.

Evening auctions tend to offer the highest-value works, suggesting that demand is again on the rise for the highest value pieces, following sales of $0.48bn and $1.2bn in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Evening art sales at the two auction houses amassed $2.4bn in 2007, prior to the global economic crisis.

The report is backed by figures from the Artprice Global Index, which reveals that global art prices are again approaching pre-recession 2008 levels.

And it is buyers fresh to the scene that are thought to be behind the resurgence.

"The art market is a place for new people these days," New York-based art dealer, Christophe Van de Weghe, told Bloomberg.

"There are Americans nobody has seen before who are excited by this [art] world and who want an alternative to shares. And then there are buyers coming in from places like India and China."

The popularity of art among wealthy Asian buyers is not a new phenomenon.

China, including Hong Kong, took 34.3% of global art sales in 2010, overtaking the UK in the process, a report for the French Auction Market Authority found.

Matthew Lindop
Emerging talents such as Matthew Lindop offer potential for new investors

Yet, it's not just at the top end of the art sector that excitement is building.

The buoyant art market offers exciting opportunities for entry-level investors as well, especially in the contemporary field, where we're tipping emerging talents such as Matthew Lindop to soon make it big.

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