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The art market is experiencing a spectacular rebirth in the wake of the pandemic and continues to transform every day. While many of the changes that the pandemic demanded of the art market have been for the better, some may not be here to stay in this once-elite investing class. To help understand the impact of these recent changes the art market, Yieldstreet’s Managing Director and Athena Art Finance CEO Cynthia Sachs is joined by Amanda Lo Iacono, Head of Auctions — 20th Century & Contemporary Art at Phillips, for a discussion about the latest auctions at Phillips and the new dynamic of digital and in-person art buying and selling.
The changes that the art market has experienced over the last 18 months have dramatically changed the accessibility and opportunities available to investors around the world. From the atrophy of sales starting in March 2020 as a result of uncertainty stemming from the pandemic to the incredible market reaction to sales just a few months later, Covid-19 accelerated the structural changes that were already coming into the art market. Despite all of the unknowns of the art market during the pandemic, one thing was made very clear — people’s appetite for buying art and engaging with art did not diminish during Covid. Instead, customer engagement with art increased as art became more accessible digitally and competition decreased as a result of art fairs not being held.
But as we slowly emerge from the depths of the pandemic, which of these recent changes to the art market will stay, and which ones will revert back to the old way? Amanda is confident that digital engagement and the availability of art online have become the new normal for accessing art. However, the demand to interact with art in person remains the preferred way to interact with art, and the in-person experience will never fully be replaced by online galleries.
You can’t have a conversation about the current state-of-the-art market without addressing NFTs. According to Amanda, when NFTs blew up in the art world there was a lot of conflation between the discussion around digital art, around the technology of what NFTs can do, and cryptocurrency. Too often people talk about these three things interchangeably, but each is a very different driver of what’s happening in the art market. Digital art is not new — it has been around for some time and has its own strengths and weaknesses as technology changes. And regardless of whether NFTs have been fully utilized in the art market, one thing is clear — technology will continue to play a starring role in the future of the art market.
The results of the recent Phillips spring auctions offer great insights into the current trends and greatest strengths of today’s art market. The key takeaway from this check-in is that there has been real globalization of accessibility to the art market. The art market is becoming more mainstream than ever before, making it one of the best places to consider for realizing your next level in investing.