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Art Market Guru -

Comments on the art market by art market guru Nicholas Forrest

Updated: 2014-10-04T18:00:06.045-07:00


Poll: Is the purchase of galleries by Sothebys and Christies a conflict of interest??



Solution to fake and fraudulant artwork ??


A new company by the name of Identeart has just launched a new artwork authentication system for artworks which I think is extremely exciting and very useful for anyone buying or selling artwork. Identeart has designed a label which incorporates datadotDNA which is basically a tiny dot on which information can be printed and then attached to the back of a canvas. According to the Identeart website DataDotDNA consists of tiny discs, about the size of a grain of sand, each laser-etched with multiple lines of code. The code is unique for each asset and is stored on our worldwide verification database.

The label its self is designed so that it cannot be completely removed and will always leave an identifiable trace of the sticker on the item.. The information on the label can be scanned with a special scanner revealing the information about the artwork and a reference to the information in the DataDot database. The link to the database allows the provenance of an artwork to be entered into the database as the artwork changes ownership creating a traceable history for the artwork and consequently an invaluable source of authentication and identification.

Artists have gone to great lengths (adding own DNA to artwork !!) in the past to ensure that their work is not faked so a system such as Identeart is long overdue and should prove to be very popular. The only question I would have is that of cost which may be a turn off for some artists but for auction houses, galleries and museums who have the money to spend, the benefits far out weigh the cost.

The Stigma of Sculpture


Sculpture is considered to be one of the most under valued mediums in the art market yet people continue to shun sculpture for paintings. I have been spending some time recently trying to figure out exactly what it is about sculpture that causes so many people to ignore it and have come to the conclusion that there is not one particular cause but there are many. As I see i the disadvantages of sculpture are:

-More associated with design and architecture than with the fine arts
-Sculptures often very large and not practical for collectors
-May take longer to create therefore smaller market
-Not as practical to display as hanging a painting on a wall
-Career solely based on sculpting not practical
-Sculpture seen as a supplement to painting
-Sculptures often created in multiples due to impracticality of producing one therefore makes the sculpture less desirable than a one off
-Seemingly less options and directions available with sculpture

These factors may not apply to every sculpture but combined they do present an obvious obstacle for the collector and investor. I am not sure when this stigma surrounding sculpture will be lifted but I sure hope it happens soon but in the meantime I would be looking out for the next Clement Meadmore if I was you!!!



A recent article on the art market asked the question: is the art market making us stupid? or are we making the art market stupid?
To put this question into some sort of context one needs to look at the origins of the art market and the basis of its existence which is basically a product of the artistic and cultural pursuits of artists.
The current boom in the art market has promoted art as a commodity and exposed the financial side of fine art which has caused some people to express concern in relation to the potential for the artistic and cultural aspects of art to be overshadowed by the financial aspects. I totally agree that there is the potential for this to happen and that both buyers and sellers need to continue to promote the artistic and cultural facets of fine art and nurture the artists that supply the art market.
I think that the art market can be compared to a manufacturing business in that the owners of a manufacturing business can't purely focus on how much they are selling and ignore the production and manufacturing side of the business because otherwise there is the potential for the manufacturing and production processes to collapse causing the whole business to collapse. Although I am not comparing art to a manufactured product i do think that the art market does have similarities to a manufacturing/production business.
I don't agree that at this point that the art market is making us stupid because many of the people that have become involved in art investment would not be interested in the cultural and artistic aspects of art regardless of the financial focus of the art market.
Likewise I don't agree that we are making the art market stupid because the art market is based wholly on the trading of art for money and therefore will always have a financial focus. I do think that there is tendency for the art market to stray away from the indicators of value that are related to the artistic merits of the work and become too involved in publicity, media and popular culture which causes confusion and contradiction for both sellers and buyers.

The low down on limited edition prints


One of the most common misconceptions I come across in the art market is that limited edition prints are somehow a lesser artwork compared to paintings. The fact is that limited edition prints are not lesser imitations of paintings in fact most limited editions prints are original artworks in their own right with the image only appearing in print form. An artists limited edition prints tend increase in price at the same rate as an artists paintings and are considered to be highly collectable. The reason limited edition prints are so collectable is because their prices are usually within reach of pretty much anyone which means that collectors are able to purchase artworks by blue-chip artists whose paintings are out of their reach.

You are far better off purchasing a fantastic limited edition print rather than a bad painting because the market is always going to treat a bad painting as a bad painting and the prices realised will reflect this. Many art consultants will in fact suggest that part of anyone's art portfolo should include limited edition prints even if the can afford paintings.

A proper fine art limited edition print should be hand signed and hand numbered with an edition of less than 100.

Art Market Flippers


As the art market continues to gain momentum and more people are investing in art purely to make profits a new form of art investment has emerged which has been give the term "flipping". An art market "flipper" is someone who invests in art for profits by trading art in a similar way that a day trader trades shares. Contrary to the past belief that one could only consider art as a long term investment, many people are now using the demand for art make money by trading quickly with a high turnover rate to make smaller amounts of money much quicker.

Although this form of trading may seem very attractive it is also very risky because of the fact that it is extremely difficult to predict how the value of an artwork will move in the short term. Only those with an excellent knowledge of the art market, a large contact base of potential buyers and plenty of capital should attempt art "flipping".

I think that the fact that people are now able to trade in a way similar to that of shares shows how strong the current art market is. As long as there is all this new money coming into the market via China, Russia and India the boom should continue at its current rate as art continues its status as an indicator of wealth and an entry into the upper class world of high culture.

Sothebys vs Christies - In the red corner....


With Sotheby's having dominated the art auction world for so long it is good to finally see Christie's stepping up to the plate with fantastic auction results and the record for a single day auction at $491 million. The rivaly between Sotheby's and Christie's has never been stronger with both auction houses being reported as offering guaranteed prices for vendors artworks at auction. There have even been reports of Sotheby's and Christie's waving their fees in an effort to secure the sale of a particular artwork or collection just so they can get the resulting publicity and kudos. Christie's recent and controversial purchase of the highly regarded gallery Haunch of Venison caused a flurry of opinions many of which accused Christie's of blurring the lines between what galleries and auction houses offer and calling the purchase a conflict of interest. Christie's wasnt the first auction house to purchase a gallery though with Sothebys purchasing Noortman Master Paintings in last year which ended up an unsuccesful venture so can Christie's do what Sotheby's couldnt, we will just have to wait and see.
It is worth remembering that not too long ago both Sotheby's and Christie's were involved in a huge scandal which saw the chairmen of both auction houses indicted by a federal jury in the United States for a secret deal between then two to fix commissions which resulted in sellers in the US alone allegedly being overcharged more than $400m in commissions. Christies received leniency after co-operating with the Justice department but the chairman of Sothebys received a year in jail for his actions. The scandal doesn's seem to have had any effect on the business of either auction house, in fact you wouldn't even know that their history is tainted.

Critic or Medium??


During a recent moment of contemplation while immersed in an article I was writing, I found myself questioning the role of the art critic in the world of contemporary art. With the enormous diversity, constant progression and increasing complexity of modern art the term "art critic" would seem to me to be outdated and invalid and heres why:
The term critique is defined as "A critical review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature" which basically means outlining the positive and negative points of an artwork. Contemporary art is often so complex and representative that it is open to various different interpretations so a single persons opinion of the positive and negative points of an artwork may be specific to that persons interpretation. The way we interact with artworks these days goes way beyond the purely visual with many artworks stimulating all our senses thus increasing the complexity of the artworks and the way that people interact with them.

These days art critics seem to have undertaken a role more like a medium by which they communicate the feelings, emotions, objectives and experiences associated with an artwork using their knowledge of art and art history to convey these "messages" to people who may not have the chance to experience the artwork or may not be in a position where they are able to fully appreciate and understand the artwork. In a nutshell the critics are now interpreting an artwork as opposed to critiquing it.

The days of right and wrong in the art world seem to be at an end so should the term art critic be changed to art medium??

Prada or Picasso??


One of the reasons that art has become so hot is that those with money have identified art as a means of getting noticed and becoming part of the hip art collector crowd . What use if having lots of money if no-one knows about it and what better way to get noticed than to spend huge amounts of money on art. In the past, Impressionist artworks have been the Prada of the art world with everyone who showing up at the worlds auction houses and snapping up the best impressionist paintings. The problem with the Impressionist painting "fad" is that the publicity and recognition the rich collectors received was short lived meaning that they had to buy another and another to keep in the spotlight.

The recent flood of new money that has become available thanks to the economic boom in countries such as Russia and China has brought about a new breed of collector that has found a new avenue of patronage that will not only provide almost instant recognition but will provide the cultural immortality that they are looking for. The answer came in the form of contemporary art which basically allowed these medici wannabees to make an impact not only on the art market but on various artistic movements and periods by buying art. By purchasing contemporary art from artists involved in particular new artistic movements or periods, collectors can gain cultural immortality by being credited with being involved in, or responsible for the success of recognition of a particular movement or perioda, an almost guaranteed entry in the history books!!!

Warhol now most popular artist !!


Well its official, Andy Warhol has over taken Picasso as THE most popular artist which quite frankly leaves me quite dissapointed. The term "less is more" comes to mind when faced with a Warhol and although some artists have actually managed to create more from less, Warhol has just earned more from less. The only reason that the Warhol has become more popular than Picasso is because a new generation of rich, rebelious art collectors who shun talent, ignore reality and despise rationality have decided that paying enormous amounts of money for a psychadelic image of Chairman Mao is COOL. But why is buying a Warhol considered to be so cool I hear you ask, well, because the two things that these rebelious collectors absolutely hate, rationality and reality, say that Warhol is extremely over priced, poor value. Thats right, Warhol is cool because he isn't, so when a guest enters the New York studio apartment converted from an old box factory of one of these uber cool Warhol afficionados and says to him/her, "how much did that cost", to which the collector can stand tall, pause for a moment and then proudly state $17 million dollars. The guest will keep a straight face and casually remark "nice" because they too want to be seen as cool as well but will secretly be wondering how someone could spend so much money on so little, exactly what the rebelious collector wants...

the shock of the shocking


Shock seems to be the word du jour in the art market at the moment with everything from death to sex acts to rotting plants are all on the menu at some of the worlds top galleries. An exhibition at the Tate Britain will even open with a "health warning" saying visitors should not bring those under the age of 16. Why are so many artists producing art with a "shock value", its simple, shock=exposure and column inches. "A health warning for an art show, we have to go and see what that is about" is the reaction that the Tate Britain will be hoping for and can almost guarantee that it will get exactly that.

All the excitement, buzz and media coverage that usually surrounds shock art tends to create demand for the artists work and consequently a spike in prices and dollar signs flashing in front of the eyes of those keen to make a few bucks. The problem with this is that the spike is usually short lived which means that the dollar signs quickly turn to downward pointing arrows as the artists prices level out once the hype fades.

The moral of the story is that art is a long term investment so don't get caught up in hype and fads!!!

Celebrities and art


Celebrities have long been involved in the promotion of a wide range of products from fashion to jewelery to bottled water. If you have a product that you want to sell the best way to create demand is to have your product photographed with a celebrity wearing, holding or using your product. I have been seeing a similar sort of trend emerging in the art world with artists using celebrities to increase their profile and celebrities getting involved with artists. The most obvious example of this is Charles Saatchi who has become one of the most influential figures in the artworld with artists flocking to his website to get in on the action. When Charles Saatchi was about his influence on the art market this is what he had so say:

Q: Your practice of buying emerging artists work has proved highly contagious and is arguably the single greatest influence on the current market because so many others, both veteran collectors and new investors, are following your lead, vying to snap up the work of young, relatively unknown, artists. Do you accept that you are responsible for much of the speculative nature of the contemporary art market?

I hope so. Artists need a lot of collectors, all kinds of collectors, buying their art.

Q:When you express interest in an artist, the art world takes immediate notice. The result is a rise in prices. Do you ever try to buy works anonymously to prevent this from happening?


It is quite obvious that association with celebrities and column inches can have a significant effect on the value of an artists work but the biggest question is for how long? It is dangerous to get caught up in these fads and fashions that come up as a result of celebrity association of similar exposure.

Another celebrity who has made the move into fine art is David Bowie. Bowie has recently launched his own online gallery at to nurture emerging artists. Im sure it wont be long before we see more celebrities getting on the fine art bandwagon in an effort to present themselves as being cultured.

Thick skinned


One of the only things that I don't like about the art world is that it seems to attract large numbers of inflated egos and ostentatious social outcasts who take it upon themselves to express their opinions based on nothing other than their desire to get create conflict and controversy in the hope of getting their mug in print.

I myself have been subjected to criticism by others which I am quite fine with as I have grown quite a thick skin but there are so many people in the art world, particularly artists, who do not have accept or ignore criticism. One negative remark can send an artist from confidence to complete devastation in the blink of an eye. Criticism is of course crucial in the art world and when correctly administered is a valuable tool for artists and the art market but when used by people as a means of self gratification, especially by people with influence, it becomes a powerfully destructive tool.

The art market is greatly influenced by opinion and criticism and is prone to a form of gullability when it comes to the acceptance of the opinions of some people as being honest, reliable and accurate. I am not saying that peoples opinions are not valid but in the art market where the value of an artwork can rest in the hands of a select few opinions, the opportunity (and temptation) for people to give an opinion to benefit themselves becomes an issue.

My advice is to develop your own opinion, compare the opinions of others and don't get caught up in any fads or trends created by controversy or conflict.

Resale Royalties


One of the major talking points in the art world of late has been resale royalties. For those of you who are not familiar with the art market and royalties for artists, in most countries artists only get paid when an artwork is sold for the first time on the primary market. For many years there has been a call for artists to receive some sort of financial remuneration for each subsequent sale of their artwork after the artwork leaves the hands of the artist. After all, other people are making money off the artists work so why shouldn't the artist get a share.

There has of course been opposition to resale royalties by many people in the art market because it would mean that they would have higher costs and therefore would either have to pass the costs onto the vendors or take a cut in profits. Either way, the art market has generally been against the idea. I suppose one needs to look at the big picture and take into account that artists need money to live and produce art so by funding the arts through resale royalties, more artists are likely to be able to work as artists full time and support themselves. Better funding also means that artists will be able to spend more time and effort on their work thus producing more work and better quality work boosting the art market as a whole.

There are of course limits and regulations that need to be put in place for resale royalties in order for the art market to not be too affected. The UK has successfully implemented resale royalties without a negative affect to the art market so it should only be a matter of time before other countries follow suit.

Copyright Gripes


One of my many functions in the art world is as a copyright consultant and as a copyright consultant there are some things that I would like to clear up in regards to visual art and copyright that apply to anyone who has anything at all to do with art.

1. Owning an artwork does not give you ownership of copyright.
2. Copyright stays with the artist unless they have legally signed it over to someone else (or copyright has expired)
3. Permission is required to reproduce an image of an artists work in almost every situation such as on the internet, in magazines, in newspapers, on posters etc.
4. Many artists are members of copyright collection agency's who should be contacted as a first port of call if you would like to reproduce a work (eg.
5. Fees are payable to the artist if reproductions of an image of their artwork is used
6. Artists have the right to:
• be attributed as creator of your works;
• take action if your work is falsely attributed; and
• take action if your work is distorted or treated in a way that is prejudicial to your honour or reputation

More info on copyright here:

Copyright is a very serious issue within the visual arts and is one that everyone involved should take responsibility for. After all, why should someone else profit from an artists image without the artist receiving some sort of compensation. Artists are not charities and struggle enough as it is so do the art world a favour and be aware of your copyright responsibilities and adhere to the copyright laws.

Technorati Profile



One of the things that annoys me most is art critics and journalists who seem to go out of there way to write long, drawn out articles in mainstream publications such as newspapers that sound more like an in depth diagnosis of a medical condition by a neurosurgeon than an interesting, entertaining piece of writing. It baffles me why art critics and journalists continue to regurgitate mind numbing technical critiques which express incoherent and arrogant opinions which seem to me to be more of a excercise in self gratification or an attempt to provide proof of an extensive technical vocabulary than coherent, applicable writing on visual art.

It has, and continues to be my mission to bring the fun back into art and make people want to read about and experience art as opposed to being exposed to intimidating, boring and incoherent ramblings by insecure, out of touch journos.

Onwards and upwards!!!

War Art


It never ceases to amaze me how the art market can be influenced by so many different factors. Take the recent interest in Australian war art which has been brought on by the impending 100th anniversary of the ANZAC Gallipoli landing of World War One which will take place in 2015 and also because the last remaining Australian WW1 veteran died in 2005. Prices for Australian and New Zealand war art have boomed as people try to secure the small amount of war related artworks that are not in private collections. Another example of how the art market can react to almost any event...........

Welcome to Art Market Guru blog


Well hello to everyone out there in world wide web land, my name is Nicholas Forrest and this is my new blog. You may have visited my other blogs at and which are my more "serious" blogs about how to invest in art but I have decided that I wanted another blog where I could basically say whatever I wanted so here it is. You can check out this particular blog at which makes it a bit easier to find.
I will endeavour to tell you a bit more about myself over the next few posts and give you a big more of an idea of what I do and how I came to do it.

On a separate issue I just booked a trip to the UK and France for July, WOO!!!, which I am very excited about. I will be spending most of my time visiting galleries and soaking up the history and culture of Europe but I will also find some time to indulge in some of my other passions namely car racing. I will also be doing some study with Christies which will be awesome and will give me a chance to get an insiders view to the European art market.

In the mean time why don't you check out my new art investment video that I just did!!!

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