“Ideally any tightening of the rules would be self-imposed,” said Michael Plummer, a former Christie’s executive who is now a principal in Artvest Partners, an art advisory company. “Unfortunately I don’t think the markets are going to have the discipline to do that.”
After several years of sluggishness, global enthusiasm for Latin American art is on the rise. In New York, November was a significant month for the Latin American art market.
No one wants to ruin the entertainment value of a night out at the auctions, but contemporary art has enough credibility problems without unnecessary murkiness. “Industry practices need to catch up with the value of art today”, argue Michael Plummer and Jeff Rabin of Artvest Partners, a firm of art-investment advisors. “We need to require a higher standard of transparency and ethical behaviour because so much money is at stake.” Regardless of the money involved, the market would be considerably fairer and more open if the auction houses reported real prices, disclosed the reserve prices—and named the third-party guarantors as well.
“Sotheby’s did an excellent job in pulling off a successful sale in an unsettled time,” said Michael Plummer of art investment advisory Artvest Partners, “but you can’t separate the two auctions—it’s all one market. There is a sensitivity [right now], and confidence is easily lost.”
“Collectors and dealers will be watching the auctions closely for clues about the next move for prices. In general, collectors are favoring high-quality works by major artists, in contrast to the often-indiscriminate buying before the crash,” says Jeff Rabin, a co-founder and principal at Artvest, a Manhattan-based art investment advisory company.