When the demand for great works outstrips supply, you know you’re in a strong position. And with such a strong surge in the Australian Indigenous art market, particularly in the latter half of 2017, I’ve been encouraged to make some bold steps in 2018 and beyond.
Here is my outlook and some inside scoops for the year ahead...
First let’s have a look at the auction world.
All eyes will be on the forthcoming Sotheby’s London sale on March 14, and there are already a number of interesting highlights announced (see two examples below). As this annual auction begins to gather momentum, it will draw greater interest from buyers and sellers around the globe.
I will be attending this year’s auction to help support the sale and encourage clients to bid. So if you have interest and you would like some eyes and ears on the ground, feel free to contact me. I am very happy to assist and make the distance factor become a non-issue for both local and international bidders alike.
Locally, it will be interesting to see how Deutscher and Hackett responds to the rapid increase in demand. Will it hold a stand-alone Australian Indigenous auction or will it continue to combine all ‘Australian’ art under one banner – time will tell. But I believe for the local market, the latter option may be the best route here. Maintaining a high level of quality is the key.
It will also be interesting to note whether the Cooee/FAB model takes hold or will it simply become a passing thought – time will also tell. We’ll keep a closer watch on that space and comment further once they get a few more runs on the board.
As you’d be aware, I am a strong believer that quality combined with impeccable provenance will always win in the end, and the auction houses that strictly adhere to this model should see continued and growing success. If an auction house chooses otherwise – selling inferior quality with inadequate provenance to ill-informed buyers - they do this at their own peril.
On a disappointing note, the demise of Mossgreen has sent shockwaves through the Australian auction industry. It highlights the lack of legal onus on the houses to protect the very people that build their business up – the vendors. I am sure that we will hear more about this in future, but at very least it should hopefully shake up an industry that should be always built on trust.
As I said at the end of last year, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t benefitting from this local auction turmoil and lack of dedicated sales. But there are benefits for potential vendors to sell through me as well. Some I’ve discussed at length in The Real Cost of Selling at Auction, but what I’ve not mentioned previously is that, unlike auction houses, I don’t hold onto the vendors funds for up to 60 days. As soon as the moneys are paid and we have a pleased buyer – the funds are transferred immediately to the vendor. It’s that simple.
I understand that I would not have a business without my vendors – you simply can’t sell something if you don’t have something to sell - and therefore each and every one of my vendors and suppliers gets the royal treatment.
What about those bold moves?
Firstly, I am thrilled to announce that Jesse De Deyne will be joining my team in 2018. Jesse’s knowledge and passion for Australian Indigenous art began at an early age through his family – his grandfather is a significant collector.
Jesse has volunteered at Maningrida and Ramingining art centres and this keen interest continued to develop at auction - where our strong working relationship began.
I am thrilled to have Jesse on my team once more. His energy and passion for the art is exciting, and I see that this move will help future proof the Australian Indigenous secondary art market longer term.
The holiday break has also given me some time to contemplate the direction of my company, specializing in private sale of Australian Indigenous art.
Both my Private Treaty and Annual Catalogue platforms, focusing purely on the top end of the market, are flourishing. But now with Jesse’s assistance the quarterly listings will begin to change shape over the coming months.
With the aim of re-energizing the quarterly listings I will engage with an international online platform to enhance exposure. Not only for our business but for the promotion of Australian Indigenous art in the broader sense. We will also explore using ‘themed’ sales which we hope will create more succinct sales offerings.
Much more on this to come so watch this space.
I could not be more confident with where the Australian Indigenous art market is now placed. It still remains in the infant stages of growth, particularly internationally, but the primary market and the communities it supports will once again begin to enjoy the benefits that this secondary market confidence generates.
Which leads me back to the Sotheby’s sale in London – some people ask why I help support my competitor’s sale, and I always say it’s because whether you like it or not, these auctions help broadcast Australian Indigenous art on a completely different stage internationally. This will in turn have positive impact at all levels, particularly at the community level - helping keep culture strong. We should not lose sight of this big picture.
Fostering a vibrant and sustainable Australian Indigenous art market is what drives me in this business.
I'm now inviting consignments of exceptional Australian Indigenous Art for the 2018 Annual Catalogue.
If you are considering selling, contact me for an obligation-free appraisal.