The fine art market has shown that it is strong enough to withstand the downturns of the current stock market, and this strength is showing very clearly in recent auction results. There has been more action in art sales in the last half of 2009 than I have seen in the past 4 or 5 years. The gains are across the board from Rembrandt to Warhol, and all over the world.
As people become less comfortable with intangible investments, such as stock market shares, we are seeing a reallocation of moneys to tangible assets, such as precious metals, gems, and fine art. As the returns continue to grow, so will the art market.
In November 2009, Sotheby's New York estimated Andy Warhol's "200 One Dollar Bills" at $8 million to $12 million. It sold at an impressive $43.8 million . "Bidding was very deep tonight. There is a great desire for great art - consumer behaviour has started to accelerate," said Sotheby's head of contemporary art Tobias Meyer. Also in November, a metal multiple by Victor Vasarely beat out estimates by over 300%.
These recent hammer prices prove that there is a revitalized demand for beautiful art going into 2010.
UPDATE (Feb. 10, 2010): Yet again, hammer prices are soaring well over high estimates on auctions in 2010 at Sotheby's and Christie's. A Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt painting was estimated at $19 mil to $29 mil, and sold for $45.4 mil.