Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Poker or Chinese Checkers?

What is the significance of a quarter-billion-dollar painting? Not only does the sale of “The Card Players” by Cezanne for $250 million eclipse the previous record of $140 million, but also it brings 19th-century works back into the ranks of the most highly valued artworks.
Records were set in 2006 by 20th-century works with sales of paintings by Klimt, de Kooning, and Pollock. The range of $135-140 million solidly surpassed the $100 million mark, which the sale of Picasso’s “Boy with a Pipe” had broken in 2004. The prices of the 20th-century works also overshadowed prices of Van Goghs, which had held records for 19th-century works. In 1990, “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” set a new record at $82.5 million and still fares well when adjusted for inflation. Interestingly, the Van Gogh went to a collector in Japan, and the Cezanne went to the Royal Family of Qatar.
With Hong Kong developing as the third major city in art trade and eastern wealth increasing the value of western art, the art market takes on evermore transnational dimensions. Will the globalization of the market turn art into a bone fide investment instrument, or is it still too early in the game to tell?

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