Mega rich keep spending

08-07-2008

Mega rich keep spending
The arts and antique market is thriving, as the world's super rich carry on spending despite economic woe.

The Arts and Antiques Survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) reveals no changes in lot prices at auctions.

However, there was a stark divergence between the trends in the lower and upper price tiers of the market.

For items over £50,000, 43 per cent more chartered surveyors recorded a rise than a fall in lot prices.

But for pieces priced under £1,000 and between £1,000 and £5,000 – some 41 per cent and 18 per cent more surveyors respectively reported a fall rather than a rise prices – as buyers lower down the scale became more cautious with their cash.

Rics spokesman Jeremy Lamond said: “Investors at the top end of the market see arts and antiques as an alternative investment in this uncertain economic climate.

"The credit crunch has bolstered the sale price of more expensive items but has depressed the lower end of the market where liquidity is extremely tight. The cost of living is on the increase making the purchase of antiques a luxury few can afford.

"The situation is unlikely to improve in the near term but as long well-heeled investors remain the market will continue to feel supported.”

The survey also shows many records have been shattered, with surveyors reporting the spending power of the super rich and overseas buyers - particularly Russians and Middle Eastern nationals - is having a positive impact on the industry.

The strongest performing sector was contemporary art – with sales such as Lucian Freud's ‘Benefits Supervisor sleeping’ selling for £17.2million and Banksy’s ‘Laugh now but one day we will be in charge’ monkey going under the hammer for £100,000.

Oil and water colour paintings did not perform as well as contemporary art – except at the higher end of the bracket.

Some 35 per cent of chartered surveyors reported a rise over a fall in the £50,000 plus tier – with headlines taken by Monet’s ‘Le basin aux nympheas’, which sold for £41million, and Kyffin Williams ‘A Welsh Farm’ canvas oil painting, which sold for £26,000.


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