The art market, present and future, with Phillips post-war and contemporary expert, Robert Manley
NEWS OF ONE OF MANY MAJOR SHIFTS IN THE AUCTION WORLD POSTED IN AUGUST, 2015, IN THE ART INDUSTRY’S NEWSLETTER, JOSH BAER’S BAER FAXT, ANNOUNCING THE DEPARTURE TO PHILLIPS AUCTION HOUSE OF CHRISTIE’S SPECIALISTS, JEAN-PAUL ENGELEN (POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART, CURATOR OF PUBLIC ART AT THE QATAR MUSEUM), HUGUES JOFFRE (19th AND 20th CENTURY ART) AND ROBERT MANLEY (DEPUTY CHAIR, POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART). WITH THIS TRIUMVIRATE IN PLACE, PHILLIPS MADE ANOTHER LARGE STRIDE AWAY FROM ITS EARLIER MONIKER, “THE THIRD AUCTION HOUSE”, TOWARDS BECOMING TODAY’S POWERHOUSE WITH A GLOBAL PRESENCE.
HAND-PICKED FROM SOTHEBY’S AND CHRISTIE’S, PHILLIPS HAS OFFERED MANY SPECIALISTS FROM THOSE VENERABLE HOUSES THE PROSPECT OF JOINING A TEAM HEADED BY EX-CHRISTIE’S AUCTION VETERAN, ED DOLMAN, CEO AT PHILLIPS SINCE 2014, AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHAPE A NEW PLATFORM FOCUSING ON THE TASTES AND VIEWPOINT OF THE CURRENT CONTEMPORARY COLLECTOR.
Dolman’s years at Christie’s coincided with a sea change in collecting habits. “The profile of the collector when I started in this business was someone fairly late in life who had gotten interested in a niche market and would spend 10 to 15 years building that collection,” he said. “But now the profile is completely different. They are much younger, they have much more money to spend, and they want to put together a collection a lot more quickly. They’re a little more impatient, and the supply problem is solved by the contemporary market.”
IT IS A PRIVILEGE FOR THE LRFA BLOG TO CONTINUE ITS DIALOGUE WITH ROBERT MANLEY, DEPUTY CHAIR AT PHILLIPS, WHOSE UNDERSTANDING OF THE ART AND AUCTION MARKETS AND HIS DEEP RAPPORT WITH COLLECTORS BOTH ESTABLISHED AND NASCENT, SETS A HIGH STANDARD.
ROBERT, WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE WILL BE THE EFFECT OF THE CORRECTION THAT IS TAKING PLACE IN THE ART MARKET? IN WHAT WAYS, CAN COLLECTORS PROTECT THE VALUE OF THEIR COLLECTIONS DURING THESE SHIFTS IN THE MARKET?
I don’t see much effect of the so-called correction on any area of the market, with the exception of works over $20 million. And even in that heady territory, there is still demand, just not quite as deep. The market is alive and well although maybe a bit of the froth has subsided. You might have to fight a tiny bit less for certain works and your place on the waiting list at a top gallery might be a little bit shorter, but fundamentally, things haven’t changed much.
I try to maintain the same outlook whether it is a down market or an up market. At the risk of lapsing into an extended art world cliché, you should buy the things you love and buy as well as you can. It’s also important to put together a collection that has some themes or some kind of focus, that make it more than the sum of its parts. Get some good advice from people you trust, like Leslie Rankow for instance!
One important thing to do is decide on personal financial thresholds for your collection. Under a certain amount, you should be buying purely for the love of it, and with no hope or expectation of resale or appreciation of value. Above a certain amount, you expect a work to maintain its value, which in effect, makes it more of an “investment”.
I hate talking about art as an investment, but if you want to protect the value in your art collection, the best way to do that is to avoid putting yourself in the position of having to sell something quickly. Most quality works of art by established artists can be sold at a price that is commensurate with its quality, if you have a long enough time horizon.
The best investment advice for art is…don’t invest in art. Invest in things that make you lots of money, and then your reward is the art you buy with it. The joy you get from it is your dividend, and if it goes up in value, it’s icing on the cake. Like any form of investing, it’s a pursuit for professionals. It’s a hard business to thrive in, with high opportunity costs and massive capital risk, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to make it your full-time occupation.
THAT IS VERY GOOD ADVICE.
WHAT IS PARTICULARLY EXCITING ABOUT JOINING PHILLIPS AND WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS AND RESPONSIBILITIES?
It was a great year on garden leave but I very much looked forward to joining Phillips. I am working side by side with Jean-Paul Engelen, providing strategic planning and vision for the Contemporary department worldwide. Most of my time is spent doing the same things I’ve always been doing, working with top clients and important works of art. Essentially I’ve been doing the same thing for about 26 years, but it never gets old because there are always new things to learn, and great collections to see.
The new challenge I welcome very much is working with Jean-Paul and CEO Ed Dolman, and many others, to create a strong team mentality, with complete trust and transparency. Phillips has put together an incredible team, some of the best and most experienced from all of the top auction houses, in all of the fields that matter to Phillips. The shareholders of Phillips are passionate art collectors themselves, have a long-term vision and are willing to invest in it. We have some innovative ideas about how we are going to organize our auctions and reach into new markets…at a smaller company like Phillips, we can do things that are impossible at a larger corporation. I’m very bullish on the contemporary art market in general and feel Phillips is positioned like no other company to play a leadership role in it.
ROBERT, THIS WAS SUCH A VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG. SO MANY THANKS!
IN THE NEXT POST, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO VISIT THE LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY IN CHELSEA. THE GALLERY SPECIALIZES IN CLASSIC POST-WAR AMERICAN ART WITH AN EMPHASIS ON ARTISTS WHO CAME INTO PROMINENCE IN THE 1950s AND 1960s. THE FORTHCOMING SOLO EXHIBITION OF MAJOR CANVASES BY EDWARD DUGMORE FROM THE !960s OPENS ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23rd AND CONTINUES THROUGH MARCH 25th, AT 521 WEST 26th STREET, IN CHELSEA, NEW YORK.
UNTIL THEN, THANKS FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG!