Simon de Pury: Are you worried about a recession's effect on the art market?

Simon de Pury:  First of all I think that any market, whatever it is, cannot develop only in one direction. I mean I think it’s the essence of markets. Let’s say we’ll move and change, and that certain things will go up. Certain things will stay flat. And certain things may go down. Overall if you observe the way the art market has developed since the mid-19th century, the overall curve is only moving upwards. So if you take a long-term view of things, you cannot go wrong by buying the best quality. Tastes evolves. What we love today may not be loved in 30, 40 years from now. But if you buy the best quality given the field that you focus in, automatically it’s going to go up in value. And there is a question of scarcity because every year thousands of works of art end up in public collections, in museums. And those works are never coming back into the marketplace. So it’s not just an issue of money. It’s an issue of availability. Today even with unlimited amounts of money, you can no longer do the best ...collection in the world. It’s impossible. You can no longer do the best impressionist collection. It’s impossible. You can probably no longer do the best modern collection. However you can do the best contemporary arts collection in the world. And so . . . But in five, 10 years from now, you won’t be able to find the best Jeff Koonses anymore, the best ... anymore. Those works will be gone. So that leads me to think that in long term, the art market will only go from strength to strength. Of course there will be moments of slow downs, of change in fashion. But the basis for the international art markets is much wider than it’s ever been. It’s truly global. But it’s linked to emotions. It’s linked to feelings. So if everybody feels, “My god, we’re going into a crisis. It’s really, really tough,” then maybe you feel less like spending if the mood is ebullient and very positive around you. So that’s a psychological factor which is very difficult to gauge. So at the end of the day you should follow your passion, buy what you love, and you can’t go wrong in the long term. Recorded on: 2/7/08

If you take a long-term view, de Pury says, you can only be optimistic.

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