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6 avril 2020

Timeless aesthetics: Collectors advised to buy quality pieces amid COVID-19 crisis


NICE.- The international art market is now bearing the brunt of the financial crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this, our Chief Expert, Jean Gauchet, has several pieces of advice to our readers.

The newly released Art Market 2020 report by Art Basel and UBS analyses that the travel restrictions and bans on social events put up by governments worldwide are bringing a dramatic impact on the global art market. Indeed, a number of art fairs have already cancelled or postponed their show this year, including Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Paris and Art Dubai, while these major art fairs constitute up to 40 percent of the global art sales. Auction houses have also postponed their sales to later this year.

In face of difficulties, how should collectors and art investors react accordingly? Jean says that knowing one’s artistic predilection is of paramount importance, which even comes before the quality.

Amidst unstable times, the activities of art object selling and buying become less frequent. One may have to hold on to one object for a long time before the best moment comes up to resell it. Thus, Jean reminds investors to understand well the purpose of such an investment. “The piece of art may be staying with you for a long time. Make sure you understand your taste. Buy a work that you really enjoy in your life.”

This piece of advice is in fact very much in line with Gauchet Asian Art’s mission - to help collectors define their own taste while constructing their collection. An investor’s goal can be diverse, from making profits to making chronological studies about antiques, from building a family collection to making museum donations, but an investor must know what he/she fancies.

Comparing the current coronavirus emergency to the 2008 financial crisis, Jean emphasises the importance of quality investment. “The market may plunge for a period of time but it will certainly come back,” he said, “at times like this, the market will only become more and more selective in terms of the quality of the object.”

We have witnesses that, 12 years ago, the mid-price market crashed and stayed low for a long period of time but high-calibre artworks always maintained its status,” he analysed, “and this will happened again now.”

Even though the Chinese market contracted after the sharp ascent until 2012, which led to a temporary contraction in global sales values in the subsequent years, according to the 384-page Art Market 2020 report, it is only proven once and again that top-grade pieces have always high stability, if not growth potential, in its price.

If you buy porcelains, always go for the imperial ones. They are more expensive, but much better than 30 mediocre pieces from the 19th century in terms of stability and financial return,” Jean added, “this is also applicable to bronze, jade and other types of antique.”

So what are these “bluechips” in the Asian art market? The Chinese-French painter Sanyu (1901-66) and the Vietnamese-French painter Mai Trung Thu (1906-80) are two examples given by Jean.

Go for the quality artworks. You can resell them for a guaranteed good price no matter what happens in the market.”

Mai Thu, Femme se coiffant. Ink and colours on silk. Signed and dated on right top. Original frame by the artist. H: 17 cm. L: 12 cm

Mai Thu, Femme se coiffant. Ink and colours on silk. Signed and dated on right top. Original frame by the artist. H: 17 cm. L: 12 cm. © Gauchet Art Asiatique