Marion Maneker, Art-Market Blogger Extraordinaire

What is it about blogs launched in May this year? Yesterday I lauded John Hempton of Bronte Capital; today I flicked through the archive of Art Market Monitor, and was blown away at the sophistication and insight of its blogger, Marion Maneker. For instance, here he is on the upcoming Hirst sale at Sotheby’s:

Whatever one thinks of Hirst’s art, there is little in the sale that does not seem either derivative or, perhaps, tone deaf. Fans of Hirst’s work will tell you that his art is about death. But a gold calf seems more like Hirst trying channel Jeff Koons than a commentary on decay. Do the Unicorn and Zebra, let alone the Shark (Mark II), represent forward movement in his ideas and work? Or is this just an attempt to re-harvest value that escaped the artist the first go round.

And he’s if anything even better on quantitative analysis than he is on qualitative criticism. In a long post on the London contemporary art market today, he pulls out some astonishing figures which astonished me:

In 2005, London saw £147 million in Contemporary art sold in three sales season in February, June and the smaller sales around the Frieze art fair in October. In 2006, that number was £232 million. But the real take off came in 2007 when the total sales with the buyer’s premium reached £502 million. So far this year, especially with the spectacular June sales, the total is £525 million or a 5% increase over all of 2007 combined. The Frieze sales would have to keep up the 40% rate this October for the London Contemporary art market to reach ߣ700 million this year. But that isn’t an unrealistic ambition given the current market.

Yes, the total amount of contemporary art sold at auction in London so far this year — remember, this is just the auction houses, not the galleries; just London, not New York; and just contemporary art, not Old Masters or Impressionists or anything else — has already exceeded the billion-dollar mark, with the October sales, and the special September Hirst auction, yet to come.

Here’s the chart, which is as bubblicious as anything I’ve seen in financial markets:


Welcome to the blogosphere, Marion — you’re a much-needed addition!

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