This Thursday, December 14, the Círculo Ecuestre hosted the third conference of the fourth edition of the Modern and Contemporary Art fair By Invitation.

Enrique Lacalle, president of the institution and promoter and curator of the art fair, was in charge of introducing Teresa Ybarra, director of Bonhams in the Barcelona delegation, and Lucía Tro, specialist in 20th and 21st century art at Bonhams Spain, speakers at the colloquium that was held under the title Art as an investment alternative.

As an introduction to the presentation, the director of the Barcelona branch of Bonhams put the attendees in context of the exponential growth that the art market has experienced in recent decades. As the expert recalled, “in the annual Art and Finance report that Deloitte made this year it said that some 2.1 trillion dollars in art had been incorporated into the portfolios of high net worth individuals, a significant fact compared to other alternative goods.” Given this data, Ybarra stated that “since the mid-1950s, the art market has grown 8.5% annually”. “The average price of the most expensive works at auction in 2011 was between 50 and 60 million dollars and, in 2022, the average price was 200 million dollars, a fact indicative of the growth we have experienced in this sector area”, he added, to declare that “art is increasingly an investment alternative due to its high levels of profitability”. 

For her part, the international specialist in impressionist and modern art, post-war and contemporary art and prints at Bonhams Spain, Lucía Tro, added to her colleague's statements that "it is a market that is characterized by the opacity of prices", which added that “The work of art is heterogeneous. The same artist can have better or worse times. Just because it is the work of Miró or Tàpies does not have the same value in all periods or in all media”. For this reason, she called to “follow the exhibitions that the artist does, know who represents him and what galleries sell him, since that will determine what will revalue his work”.

The expert explained that “within the art of the 20th century. XX and s. XXI, the modern art market is more stable, because artists have a very consolidated market, but in contemporary art there is more speculation”. In reference to this, she argued that “if one wants to buy a work of art that will last over time, it is always advisable to look for artists with a consolidated career.”

Questioned by her dialogue partner, Lucía Tro stated to the audience that, today, there are two movements with greater relevance and weight in the art world: “the surrealist and American abstract expressionism, especially after the review of women artists from both movements who were not considered and who right now have appreciated three or four times what they were paid in recent times”.

Another of the determining factors of the price of works, according to Teresa Ybarra, are the social contexts. The representative of Bonhams in Barcelona shared with the attendees that “during the pandemic, people began to buy much more online and that caused art to undergo a process of digitalization, which is why the most figurative art became the one that was best appreciated. on the web, and therefore, the one that rose much more.”

During the colloquium, Lucía Tro reviewed the various art investment models, among which she highlighted “the first artistic investment funds, whose existence dates back to the beginning of the 20th century”; “the purchase of shares in the value of a high-quality work of art through current applications” and “the classic modus operandi, of purchasing in galleries and auctions”.

After that, Teresa Ybarra assessed that “the art market is a market with good prospects that will continue to grow because there are more and more buyers, especially Asians”. “A few years ago participation in auctions was 10 or 15%, now it is 25 and 30%”. The expert reinforced her theory based on the fact that “the digitalization of art will continue and that mega-galleries will continue with their positioning in the market”. In addition to pointing out that “the most powerful markets for buying and selling art are China and North America”.

The experts in art collecting concluded the presentation by recommending that the public “buy solid artists” and “base it on what you like and what you know you will enjoy when you hang it at home”. In addition, they opted to “go to good galleries and auction houses that guarantee authenticity, because there are still very bad practices.”