Brera|z - A summer enlivened by art. How the market is getting better of Covid-19
The reopening of the auction houses and galleries confirms a positive trend. Despite limited visitor numbers and increased health precautions, the result is surprising and completely unexpected, though eagerly hoped for. In Milan, the art market has returned and with a more than generous response driven by the success that comes from north of the Alps at the Parisian auction houses. Here collectors could view the lots only by appointment and wearing masks and gloves. Some of the more impatient and intrepid personally attended sales held at the auction rooms, though with reduced sessions, but the biggest response was online.
Auctions had been cancelled abruptly with the market practically suspended but still eager. The greatest difficulty was not so much sales as opportunities to find artworks with mobility on lockdown. Already in past years, auction houses were making a wide use of online media to receive bids from wealthy art lovers abroad, because tax and legal regulations are also “rich”, which is the main reason for the lack of purchases by foreigners. This is especially true of Italy, one of the largest sources of artworks, and it obviously has a negative impact on both the number of works auctioned and sales.
Clearly it is not easy to make predictions, but looking to the past, the increase in the sale of luxury goods had always peaked immediately after a financial crisis, like the 2008 recession in Asia, when the collectors’ response was immediately very strong.
The two best-known auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, have held about a dozen auctions online since the start of the lockdown with excellent results. Italian auctioneers have adopted a different approach. Il Ponte, an Italian auction house based in Milan, was among the first to welcome the public to its premises, organising a busy calendar which kicked off as early as 9 and 10 June. The event most eagerly awaited was the auction of modern and contemporary art on 21 July. This was a selection of works belonging to the famous sports journalist Rolly Marchi and his wife Graziella, great art lovers endowed with an extraordinary aesthetic sense.
They enjoyed privileged relations with artists such as Dino Buzzati, Renato Guttuso, Lucio Del Pezzo, Valerio Adami, Giosetta Fioroni, Jean-Michel Folon, Carlo Guarienti, Ennio Morlotti, Mario Rossello and Roger Selden. As close friends of the family, they bought and exchanged many works with the couple. “Auctions create new values and turn desire into fetishism,” said the art critic Jerry Saltz, and in this way the web is entering the world of culture and art patronage as aspects of the economic circuit that the web has redesigned.
Opening image: photo Il Ponte Casa d’Aste