Spring Art Auctions Surrounded by Crash Talk

Writers keep predicting implosion, but it might never come
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2008 10:25 AM CDT
Employees hold Lucian Freud's painting 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' during a photo opportunity at Christie's in London, Friday, April 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)
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(Newser) – It's auction season again in the art world, and Sotheby's and Christie's have put record estimates on dozens of paintings. Despite warnings in the media of an imminent crash, prices of fine art seem to be impervious to the global economic downturn. It's enough to make one writer at Slate wonder: Are observers of the art market rooting for a collapse?

"You don't usually see writers who cover, say, the price of wheat rooting for its decline," writes analyst Marion Maneker. Perhaps art writers aren't inherent bears, he says, just eager to be the first to identify the crash. But the transformations in the art world since the last downturn—especially the huge increase in buyers, which creates liquidity—means "this boom may end not with the bang that everyone expects, but a whimper."