Luxury Art Deals Abound at Art Basel Despite Market Slump

  • 14th Jun 2024
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Luxury Art Deals Abound at Art Basel Despite Market Slump

Art Basel in Switzerland, renowned as the world's highest quality art fair, is not a casual affair. Attendees, often the wealthiest art collectors, come with a focused intent to acquire exceptional pieces, rather than to simply enjoy the atmosphere. This year's VIP days were held on June 11 and 12, with public access from June 13 to 16, 2024.

Despite a downturn in the art market, the pressing questions remained: which collectors would attend, and how much they would be willing to invest?

Shifting Collector Demographics

Art Basel
Art Basel

New York-based dealer Carol Greene observed a notable shift in the composition of collectors, noting a predominantly European presence this year. This shift, she indicated, could benefit American galleries by allowing them to forge new relationships. Malik Al-Mahrouky, a partner at Kurimanzutto gallery, echoed this sentiment, suggesting that the absence of urgency among attendees reflected both market conditions and a growing fatigue with art fairs.

Strategic Art Acquisitions

Art Basel
Art Basel

Greene mentioned pre-selling a large abstract work by the in-demand artist Justin Caguiat, while Al-Mahrouky pre-sold a series of works by Ana Segovia. However, many dealers reported that pre-sales did not meet expectations. Unlike previous years, when collectors rushed to confirm sales as the fair began, this year saw a more measured approach, with buyers making informed decisions after viewing pieces in person, according to Alex Logsdail, CEO of Lisson Gallery.

Major Sales Highlight the Fair

Art Basel
Art Basel

Despite the cautious atmosphere, several blue-chip galleries reported significant sales. Pace sold three editions of a large multi-part sculpture by Jean Dubuffet for €800,000 ($859,000) each, and a giant sculpture by Torkwase Dyson was acquired by Brazil’s Inhotim museum for $380,000. Hauser & Wirth sold a $16-million work on paper by Arshile Gorky, a $3.5-million sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, and a 2022 painting by Henry Taylor for $1.5 million. Thaddaeus Ropac confirmed the sale of a Robert Rauschenberg canvas for $3.85 million and multiple editions of a sculpture by Georg Baselitz for €2 million.

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