Kate Moss Art Market Mess 1 – artmarketblog.com
So, the papers are full of doom and gloom reports of artworks that haven’t sold at auction or have sold for less than they were expected to sell for. It is kind of interesting that you don’t tend to hear about the more minor works of art that don’t sell when the market is running hot yet at the first sign of a bump in the road there are suddenly reports galore of minor market movements. I am particularly amused by an article from The Independant (see here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art-and-architecture/news/art-sale-mossacre-944771.html)
titled “Art sale Moss-acre” which, as the title eludes to, reports on the sale of a Kate Moss self portrait scrawled in lipstick with the addition of a few philosophical words written with blood by world famous nutter Pete Doherty. What first concerned me about this article is the byline which reads “Dealers in shock as Kate’s self-portrait and Banksy pieces fail to attract bids”. When you read this byline did you come to the conclusion that the Moss work didn’t attract any bids at all because I sure did yet. According to the article, however, the bidding just failed to reach the work’s reserve and did in fact end up selling after the sale. In fact I know that the bidding reached 25,000 pounds which means that the title of the article is basically a lie.
Kate Moss is certainly well known for being the subject of other people’s fine art exploits (eg. Banksy, Bacon etc.) but is hardly known for her own fine art exploits. Because it is the only painting Moss is known to have completed, the auction of this work is most likely the first time a work by Moss has ever been offered for sale. Because there is no previous sale of Moss’s work on the primary or secondary market to compare with there is no way of knowing whether the eventual price achieved for this work was high or low which is just one of the reasons why this work should never have been used as an indicator of the health of the art market. How on earth can one know whether the estimate was right and if the work really did fail to sell because of the economic climate if none of Moss’s works have ever been sold before?
Overall there wasn’t anything wrong with the works being auctioned by Lyons and Turnbull except that they were the sort of works that would normally be most desirable to those people with a lower budget and less available funds. The same people who would be the most cautious with their money in the current economic climate and therefore would probably be the least likely to spend the money they do have available on art.
It is important to contextualise the results of any sale reported but it seems that most of the people who are doing the reporting on the art market either don’t have the knowledge to provide that contextualisation or are only concerned with attracting readers and not in accurate or useful analysis.
To be continued…..
Image: Self Portrait by Kate Moss
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications