The importance of the new technology in the art market as analyzed in the Bank of America Private Bank survey
THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION HAS DRASTICALLY AFFECTED MANY INDUSTRIES, CHANGING THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE, ACQUIRE AND SELL PRODUCT. ONE OF THE INDUSTRIES THAT HAS, SURPRISINGLY, BEEN IMPACTED LESS THAN ONE WOULD THINK, GIVEN ITS BASICALLY VISUAl NATURE, IS THE ART MARKET AS SEEN IN THE RECENT PIERCINGLY INFORMATIVE AND COMPREHENSIVE BANK OF AMERICA PRIVATE BANK REPORT.
- ART AND TECHNOLOGY
- The art market remains one of the few industries still largely undisrupted by technology. We’re seeing innovation, but it’s still at the fringes. While online transactions are increasing, the growth of online sales has slowed, growing at 9.8% in 2018 versus 12% in 2017.
- Internet-native art companies are trying to help. In June, private equity firm Cove Hill made an investment in online marketplace LiveAuctioneers, aiming to accelerate online sales growth for their auction house partners, while Invaluable has made it easier to source and buy lower value items. Major galleries like Gagosian and David Zwirner launched digital sales channels, but the digital revolution still eludes the art world.
- On the transparency front, Christie’s became the first major auction house to record sales via Blockchain with the sale of the Ebsworth collection in November. At the request of the seller, Christie’s partnered with Blockchain-secured registry Artory to record its transactions. It’s an interesting development, but we’re a long way from Blockchain becoming industry standard.
- The most significant art world technology has been the rise of Instagram. Artists market themselves, museums announce exhibits, dealers initiate sales, and collectors tout their purchases through the platform. In 2017, when the “Untitled” Basquiat sold at Sotheby’s for over $110 million, Yusaku Maezawa posted his photo on Instagram to let the world know of his acquisition. Younger collectors, artists, dealers and auction specialists are increasingly using Instagram to enhance their personal and professional brands. Expect the new status loop to fuel a herd mentality for some artists and more price volatility. So collector beware.
- AS AN ASIDE, ARTISTS ARE CREATING WORKS THAT REPRODUCE EFFECTIVELY ON INSTAGRAM IN TERMS OF COLOR, DIMENSIONALITY AND SURFACE WITH THEIR AESTHETIC PRESENCE IN PERSON SOMETIMES TAKING A BACK SEAT.
- ART LENDING
Our art lending business grew by 20% year-over-year, as you all continue to unlock capital from your art to build hotels, buy sports franchises, expand companies and even buy more art, just to name a few. The four most common situations we’re seeing are:
1. The balance sheet arbitrage: With historically low interest rates, more of you are unlocking capital from your art to redeploy into higher-return areas of your financial life, like private equity.
2. Working capital line: During the current economic expansion, more of you are using art loans to fund the growth of your privately held companies.
3. Monetizing a collection: The passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated the 1031 Like-Kind Exchange, making it more expensive to sell art. Instead of selling art and dealing with paying the 28% federal tax + 3% health care surtax + state taxes + sales commission, many of you have chosen to leverage your art via an art line to generate liquidity.
4. Guarantees: We’re seeing more of you using art facilities to back guarantees at auction (but we advise caution).
We estimate that total U.S. art loan commitments stand at $16 billion. We’re proud to have a significant portion of those loans, and we remain staunchly committed to the space. Given our forecast of continued low interest rates, stratified wealth creation, and expansion of the collector base, we expect continued growth in the space.
Top five artists we lend against, by value:
1. Willem de Kooning
2. Andy Warhol
3. Constantin Brancusi
4. Paul Cezanne
5. Roy Lichtenstein
AT THE CLOSE OF THE SURVEY, BANK OF AMERICA PRIVATE BANK TARGETS THE OPPORTUNITY ZONES AND THE EFFECT OF CAPITAL GAINS TAX INCREASES AND THE REPEAL OF THE SECTION 1031 LIKE-KIND EXCHANGES PROVISION. THIS IS INVALUABLE INFORMATION FOR ANY ONE INTERESTED IN THE ART MARKET: DEALERS, GALLERISTS, AUCTION SPECIALISTS, AND MOST OF ALL COLLECTORS.
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