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Art market update: Confidence persists despite headwinds

Auction houses, collectors and other art market participants are optimistic about the state of the global art market, financial markets notwithstanding

People walking in and out of the entrance to the TEFAF European Fine Art Fair

As the fall art season kicks off, collectors are monitoring how broader economic uncertainty will affect the resilience of the post-pandemic art market. Amid stock market volatility and interest rate hikes, the Art Services group at Bank of America remains cautiously optimistic about auction and art fair sales this season. Robust auction guarantee activity, major single-owner collections coming to auction, and long waiting lists on the primary market all point to art market confidence in the immediate term. This fall, all eyes will be on Christie’s, which will sell The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection as well as The Paul G. Allen Collection. It could be a high-watermark season for the auction house as the Allen collection is expected to be the largest single-owner sale in history, potentially surpassing Christie’s $835 million Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller in 2018 and Sotheby’s $922 million Macklowe Collection in 2021 – 2022.1 The longer-term impact of current economic uncertainty on the art market remains to be seen. Collectors are carefully tracking how the historical inverse relationship between interest rates and art valuations will play out in the next few months (see chart below). Here are other key drivers we expect to impact the art market this fall:

Current art market strengths:

Flush ultra high net-worth (UHNW) collectors Despite major macro shifts since early 2022, UHNW collectors still have dry powder to spend, and many will likely continue to acquire art despite larger economic concerns. We still expect collectors to compete for high quality works, especially as art remains an attractive hedge against inflation and an important component of a broader portfolio diversification strategy.

Strong U.S. dollar With the surge of international travel post lockdown and the dollar strong against the Euro and the British Pound, some collectors see now as an opportune time to make acquisitions at European art fairs and auctions.

A strategic time to unlock value Given positive consignor sentiment and strong anticipated demand, some collectors are generating liquidity by selling their art into expected favorable market conditions. Other collectors are turning to art loans to unlock capital from their collections — perhaps to buy more art, to expand their business, or to further a philanthropic goal — all while keeping their art displayed in their homes.

Potential art market challenges:

Wavering market sentiment Overall luxury expenditures, which include fine art, are down 16% year over year, though still above pre-pandemic levels, according to Bank of America proprietary research. If sellers become spooked by continued capital market volatility or a spike in interest rates, they may delay discretionary selling of art, which could affect overall transaction volume and weigh on valuations.

Drop in art market participation During the height of the pandemic, we saw an unprecedented rise in the number of art market participants. Moving forward, we expect this number to fall due to global economic headwinds and cooling consumer demand. We will likely first see waning activity in certain categories, such as collectibles, emerging contemporary and NFTs.

A softening in emerging contemporary The growth of the emerging contemporary art market over the last two years is on track to continue in the short term. However, collectors should be mindful when bidding on so-called “wet paint” works at auction: While there can be initial excitement, their value may not hold long term. Buyers should look out for frequently flipped material, especially works with a large discrepancy between primary and secondary market prices, as these are even more vulnerable to price volatility.

Notable and compelling exhibition and museum openings

Bank of America’s support of the arts includes funding more than 20 major museum exhibitions each year. Additionally, the bank supports a wide variety of performing arts organizations, including nonprofits that deliver arts outreach and educational programs. Here are some highlights: 

Framed paintings on a wall, with a person pointing at one in particular.

Sargent and Spain
National Tour Sponsor
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
October 2, 2022–January 2, 2023

For the first time, Sargent and Spain presents approximately 120 dazzling oils, watercolors and drawings, many of which are rarely exhibited. Also featured from the artist’s travels are some 28 never-before-published photographs, several almost certainly taken by Sargent himself.

The exhibition will travel to the Legion of Honor, San Francisco (February 11–May 14, 2023).

Edward Hopper’s New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
October 19, 2022–March 5, 2023

This exhibition takes a comprehensive look at Hopper’s life and work through his city pictures, from his early impressions of New York in sketches, prints and illustrations, to his late paintings, in which the city served as a backdrop for his evocative distillations of urban experience.

Alex Katz: Gathering
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
October 21, 2022–February 20, 2023

This retrospective fills the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda. Encompassing paintings, oil sketches, collages, drawings, prints and freestanding “cutout” works, the exhibition begins with the artist’s intimate sketches of riders on the New York City subway from the late 1940s and culminates in the rapturous, immersive landscapes that have dominated his output in recent years.

Chagall. World in turmoil
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
November 4, 2022–February 19, 2023

With more than 100 haunting paintings, works on paper, photos and documents, the exhibition traces the artist’s search for a pictorial language in the face of expulsion and persecution.

International African American Museum
Charleston, South Carolina
Scheduled to open on January 21, 2023

The International African American Museum’s mission is to “honor the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our country’s most sacred sites.” The museum will be housed on the former Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston, the point of disembarkation for nearly half of all enslaved Africans who were brought to the U.S.

Bank of America’s support of the museum totals more than $1 million. The funding will go to development of museum programming, curriculum and operational plans, as well as the recruitment and hiring of the museum’s leadership team who will steward and drive its mission. 


Q&A: Key trends driving today’s art market, with Caroline Orr, Bank of America Art Services Specialist.


Caroline Orr, Bank of America Art Services Specialist

Caroline Orr, Bank of America Art Services Specialist

Q: What are the trends you are seeing in the current market?

A: Identity politics continue to be a major driver of the market. Artists such as Titus Kaphar, Salman Toor and Toyin Ojih Odutola are employing figuration to produce narrative-driven work focusing on contemporary socio-political issues. Text-based art as a platform for social critique is also attracting a lot of attention from artists such as Barbara Kruger, Adam Pendleton and Tracey Emin.

Q: You say narrative-driven work is on the rise. How are women artists approaching this theme?

A: Contemporary women artists are subverting traditional figuration. Their work is becoming increasingly stylized — blending abstraction and figuration — and moving towards Surrealist, other-worldly imagery that still points back to the socio-cultural and political realities of today’s world.

Q: Who are the women artists to watch?

A: A few artists to note are Anna Weyant, Emily Mae Smith, Flora Yukhnovich, Shara Hughes, María Berrío, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Lisa Brice, Hilary Pecis and Jennifer Packer. 

A framed white painting with text, “Sales report: Recent market successes for 21st-century women artists.”

The art market is rewarding younger women artists, with interest in both figurative, abstract and multi-media works.1

Shara Hughes

Total sales for first half of 2022: $25,055,604
Top sale for first half of 2022: $2,940,000

The artist's distinct vividly colored landscapes and interiors have created a feeding frenzy on the market that shows little sign of slowing.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Cecily Brown

Total sales for first half of 2022: $23,009,862
Top sale for first half of 2022: $5,959,000

The leading abstract painter of her generation, Brown has a deep and consistent market for her abstract works.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Ayako Rokkaku

Total sales for first half of 2022: $15,920,039
Top sale for first half of 2022: $1,310,870

Emerging from Asian auction houses and art fairs, Rokkaku's style is riding a wave of interest in "naïve artists", or artists without formal training.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Flora Yukhnovich

Total sales for first half of 2022: $10,307,849
Top sale for first half of 2022: $3,670,571

Her work is an imaginative reconstruction of Rococo art as abstraction. With a long waiting list, her secondary market has shown remarkable consistency.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Avery Singer

Total sales for first half of 2022: $9,173,682
Top sale for first half of 2022: $5,253,000

With few works available from her primary gallery and deep collector interest in her fusion of computer-generated imagery and modernist painting, the auction market is the only opportunity for collectors to acquire her work.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Q: Let’s talk Ernie Barnes — with his iconic 1976 painting The Sugar Shack selling at Christie’s this past May for $15.3 million.

A: Yes, we can expect to see more Ernie Barnes paintings coming to market and making their debut at auction this fall. A result like this recalibrates the market for an entire genre and generation of Black artists beyond Barnes alone. 

Q: What are the broader consequences of such a result?

A: Collectors are looking back in history to discover older or recently deceased artists who were previously overlooked by the market and institutions — including artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Charles White, Faith Ringgold and Hedda Sterne. 

A framed white painting with text, “Sales report: Powerful showings in 2022 by artists of color.”

While price is one marker of success, a high price realized for a work by an artist in a previously under-represented area of the art market can cause a healthy reassessment and recognition of other artists’ work as well.1

Ernie Barnes

Total sales for first half of 2022: $22,111,794
Top sale for first half of 2022: $15,275,000

The Sugar Shack, an image that is an icon to a generation raised on
the television show Good Times, became an auction hit in May 2022 when it set a new price level at $15.3 million.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Matthew Wong

Total sales for first half of 2022: $21,331,629
Top sale for first half of 2022: $5,897,150

The Canadian-Hong Kong Chinese artist who died in 2019 had one market run already but seems to be seeing renewed momentum in 2022.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Stanley Whitney

Total sales for first half of 2022: $17,558,2353
Top sale for first half of 2022: $2,353,140

After a long career as an abstract artist with a strictly defined visual practice, Whitney’s work has become a consistent strong seller.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Kerry James Marshall

Total sales for first half of 2022: $13,627,336
Top sale for first half of 2022: $13,538,000

A giant among Black American figurative artists, Marshall’s few works to come to auction always attract a premium price. Total sales volume comprises only five lots.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Amoako Boafo

Total sales for first half of 2022: $8,292,995
Top sale for first half of 2022: $1,667,022

An artist from Ghana who lives in Vienna, Boafo has surprised many by remaining at the forefront of the market for artists of the African diaspora.


Note: Commentary and auction tallies by LiveArt, LLC

Q: What museum show are you most looking forward to?

A: The long-awaited Alex Katz retrospective (Alex Katz: Gathering) at the Guggenheim, which opens October 2022.

Q: How do artist retrospectives impact the market?

A: We often see a market uptick with the improved collector sentiment, PR activity and speculation leading up to an artist retrospective. For example, with Katz, all top 10 auction records have been achieved in the past three years as the art world eagerly awaited the opening of his Guggenheim show. 

What you need to know about art appraisals

Knowing which type of art appraisal to request is critical for properly insuring, collateralizing, or selling a collection or a single piece. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

By Rosemary Ringwald, Wealth Strategies Advisor, and the Head of Art Planning at Bank of America Private Bank, and Michael Duffy, Head of Art and Collectibles Planning; Private Wealth Strategic Wealth Advisor for Merrill

  • Retail replacement value is an insurance concept that forecasts the future cost to replace the item being appraised for a set number of years. These values tend to be based on the current asking price from dealers and galleries, which may not necessarily be the price the property sells for in a private transaction or at auction. It generates the highest appraisal value.
  • Fair market value (FMV) is the price that a willing buyer and willing seller would exchange for property in real time. In the fine art world, FMV is essentially what the auction houses refer to as “price realized” (hammer price + buyer’s premium). FMV employs a sales comparison approach based on past comparable sales, inclusive of all sales fees and commissions.
  • Marketable cash value is used to determine the value of assets during a divorce or equitable distribution between combating heirs. It assumes an immediate sale net of expenses. These appraisals are typically 25% to 30% less than FMV.
  • Liquidation value represents the price realized under a forced sale and is typically the lowest appraised value determined by a qualified appraiser.
  • Auction estimates are not appraisals. They are the auction house’s estimate of what a work of art might sell for at auction. They are also a marketing tool that auction houses employ to stimulate competitive bidding on a given lot. These estimates should not be used for any other purpose.

For detailed information on how art and collectibles should be valued, please refer to the IRS guide.

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