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International-Art Basel: Parting words

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Published on Sunday, June 19th, 2011
Like a weather vane, indicating which direction the art world winds are blowing, as a top contemporary art fair, Art 42 Basel is the best instrument to gage the current state of the art market. As the fair comes to a close today art enthusiast eagerly sum up the forecast. 

Many seem to be in agreement that a cautious yet optimistic disposition has set the mood at this year’s event. Yet with an increased enthusiasm and a quicker pace, some still express fear that the market could be overheating too rapidly. Others suggest that the drive of investors from developing countries is strong and the art funds are succeeding where some Western art funds are exhausted. It appears as if a new group of young art collectors is growing. Especially Chinese and Brazilian art funds are raising capital among a new generation of avid investors.

Art dealers are looking for a safe haven, where value can be stored, while buyers’ seek a quality similar to trends in the financial markets. While this kind of wheeling and dealing seems partial to the wealthy elite, in fact anyone interested in the art market as a source of investment can put money in one of the many art funds, globally worth about $800 million. This year's event was worth a combined total of about $1.7 billion in art.

The insatiable demand for Asian art has not been overlooked by Art Basel as last month the owners snatched up a majority of the stake in Asian Art Fairs Ltd, which organizes the Hong Kong Art Fair.

Is buying art a safe investment? Are the boom times back? As Art 42 Basel comes to a close on Sunday, Christie’s and Sotheby’s in London will auction off a series of paintings and sculptures, estimated to be worth as much as 5.8 million pounds a piece. While these top auction houses have both been confident, the wake of Art 42 Basel and the outcome of the upcoming sales will be the deciding factor as to the current state of the international art market. 
 



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