Why owning great art is easier than you think

I've been back in London this week, visiting the annual London Art Fair in Islington.

After catching up with old friends and chatting to gallery owners, what impressed me most was the buzz around the place. There was a sense of excitement in the air, with everyone I spoke to optimistic about the year ahead.

An official survey of galleries taking part in the fair paints a similar picture. More than half said they expected the art market to strengthen again in 2015, with just 4% believing it would fall back on 2014.

When you consider last year's countless record-breaking sales, it may seem like a bold prediction. And at the very top end of the market, those expecting to see new records tumbling all over the place may be a little disappointed. But for me, it's the sales you don't hear about that are more exciting.

London art fair
Optimism is high at the London Art Fair

With today's market, the world-famous $100 million artworks are just the tip of the iceberg. These major sales make the headlines, but beneath them there's a multi-billion dollar industry that you don't often read about (unless you're a regular visitor to this site, of course).

For most dealers around the world, artworks sold for $500,000 or more account for around just 4% of their business each year. Let's face it, most of us aren't in a position to spend half a million dollars on a painting. But many of us can think about spending a few thousand dollars, and that's where the bulk of the market is: artworks valued at $50,000 or less account for more than 70% of sales throughout the year.

Even more interestingly, around 35% of those sales are for artworks priced approximately $3,000 or less. Suddenly the idea of becoming an art collector might not seem so unachievable... 

Here's a nice case in point, and it happened just last week.

In 2013, Jeff Koons' sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for a $58.4 million, a new world record price for a living artist. For most collectors it was an interesting story and not much else, because it seems like a different world.

But if you read my email last Thursday, you'll have seen we were offering two fantastic original sketches by Jeff Koons for less than £4,000 ($6,000) each.

I say "were", because both of them were snapped up in less than 24 hours.

I wasn't surprised at how quickly they sold. The chance to acquire a sketch by one of the world's most famous artists was just too good to turn down. Our clients didn't have $58 million (or anywhere to put a 12ft-high orange dog), but they now own original artwork by one of the biggest blue-chip names in contemporary art.

So it's time to stop thinking about art as something only the super-wealthy can own. These days the art market is open to everyone, with online trading and affordable art fairs making it easier than ever to get involved.

So when gallery owners at the London Art Fair say they're optimistic about the next 12 months, I know where they're coming from. As both a dealer and a collector, I am too.

All the best,


P.S If you'd like to keep up to date with the art market, and see the stories you won't find in the newspapers, you can sign up to our free weekly newsletter on our homepage.

P.P.S By joining our list you'll also receive a heads up about new stock as soon as it comes in, which is handy - because judging by the response already this year, it won't be around for long.

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