#325      29 min 48 sec
Getting your Monet’s worth: The rapidly changing global market in art

Art market researcher and former curator Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios examines the rapidly evolving relationship between art and money on the international stage. Presented by Lynne Haultain.

“These days, I've heard of auction houses running birthday parties for collectors' children. So that their children's friends get invited and most importantly the parents, as a means of the auction house staff then meeting these potential new customers” — Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios




Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios
Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios

Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios is a lecturer in the Arts and Cultural Management program at the University of Melbourne, and she researches and publishes in the areas of cultural economics and arts marketing. Her research into the Australian art auction market was the basis of the Four Corners program, "Art for Art’s Sake?" and resulted in industry reform. She has also recently co-written a chapter for The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing. Meaghan has held positions at commercial and public art institutions including the National Gallery of Victoria and Artbank, and was manager of Leonard Joel’s art auction department.

Meaghan is also a researcher and writer for film and TV; she researched and co-wrote Shane Delia’s Spice Journey: Turkey (SBS), which aired in 2014. Australia: The Story of Us (Channel 7), and Gourmet Farmer Afloat (SBS), will air in early 2015, and the feature film, The Water Diviner starring Russell Crowe, premieres in Australia on Boxing Day, 2014 and internationally in 2015. She writes for The Age and Gourmet Traveller, and is a regular commentator on the art market in general and specialist media. Meaghan also co-wrote the novel, The Water Diviner, which will be released by Pan MacMillan in December 2014.

Meaghan blogs at Art matters: Untangling the awkward relationship between art and money.

Credits

Host: Lynne Haultain
Producers: Eric van Bemmel, Kelvin Param
Audio Engineer: Gavin Nebauer
Voiceover: Nerissa Hannink
Series Creators: Kelvin Param and Eric van Bemmel

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VOICEOVER
This is Up Close, the research talk show from the University of Melbourne, Australia. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Hi I'm Lynne Haultain, welcome to Up Close and thanks for joining us.  Art, it's prestige, it's investment, it's a globally traded commodity and some of it is inspirational, provocative and beautiful.  But it's also a useful indicator of where the money is.  Buying, selling and collecting art and antiquities has long been an activity of the very rich. And in recent times, that cohort reaches well beyond the traditional bases in Europe and the US. These rising powers are buying into art the way elites always have, but it would seem there are more of them ready to purchase, they have huge amounts to spend and the marketing of works, artists and auction houses has moved to a whole new plane.  
So who are the protagonists?  What are their motives and is this real change in global art, or just another evolution in this very highly tuned market?  Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios from the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne has been watching the international art market for many years, from a range of perspectives.  She's worked with public art institutions and auction houses and she's a well-regarded commentator and blogger and now an academic. She has a special interest in the economics of art, in price formation and the role which is played by dealers especially with reference to Australian Aboriginal art.  Meaghan, welcome. 

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASASIOS
Thank you Lynne, it's lovely to be here.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Well let's take this initial tour around the gallery that is the international art market, who's buying, what are they collecting and why?  Because we've seen the rise of some very serious new entrants of late, who would they be?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Well the reality is that art is a commodity and the people we're talking about are people who are treating art as a commodity.  In that sense, it's just like your Ferrari, just like your Gucci loafers or your Prada bag, art is a luxury good.  So the people who are buying are people with a heap of money, and they are buying art as another form of asset and a luxury good.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So they see it as a luxury good, rather than as a tradeable commodity like bullion or diamonds?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
That's certainly part of it.  People very rarely actually buy art beyond a certain level.  If you go to Ikea and buy a $200 - you know, one of those little paintings that they sell to hang above your TV, you don't at any point think you're going to get money back from that.  You're buying something as a decorative piece of wall art.  But what we're talking about are people who spend millions and millions of dollars on works of art.  They obviously expect that at some point in the future are going to be able to recoup some, if not all of their investment.  But at the same time, it is another bauble to hang on their wall.  It's something to decorate their mansions, multiple mansions around the world, multiple big walls, they want something to hang on them. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
We'll get to what they're doing with perhaps in just a moment. But I suppose it's become very clear that the "who" in this question has shifted away from the traditional purchasers in Europe and the US and that we have new buyers in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia particularly. Is that the case?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Most certainly and it's actually what has probably allowed the art market to survive in recent years, post Global Financial Crisis.  The figures that came out recently that showed that still the majority of art is being sold in America, though not necessarily being sold to American collectors. A lot of the people who buy internationally also acquire their art in New York.  But the second highest percentage of market that was generated was actually in China, sold in China.  We've got America, which is predominately New York, China, being mainly Hong Kong and the UK is still third in terms of the amount of turnover of art that's sold at auction each year. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
And the buyers are from the Middle East, they're some very very high profile families who are looking to build huge collections, there are and one says the phrase with such ease, Russian oligarchs.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
It's like there's a gaggle of them.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
And a number of Chinese buyers as you've pointed out and these people are being very carefully pursued by auction houses and dealers, because they understand that this is the growth market.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes recently Christie's estimated that 10 per cent of their sales of contemporary art went to buyers from the Middle East, which is enormous, it's significant.  These are people who have only entered the market in the last 10 years. Most of them have actually only entered the market more recently than that. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
There's some great characters in this and one that I've read about is Sheikha Mayassa al Thani from Qatar, who is now known as the Queen of the art world because she has literally spent billions over the last few years, amassing a huge collection for what would appear to be a major complex of galleries in Doha that is being planned.  She is throwing enormous amounts of money around.  Has that had a massive distorting effect on the market?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
I think it's certainly had an effect in terms of the art that is being sought out, because there is a very strong taste for contemporary British and American art and European art from collectors in the Middle East.  And she's a very, very interesting character because as you point out she's a member of the Qatari royal family, but she was educated at Duke University.  On the one hand she's been the driving force between the establishment of the Museum for Islamic Arts, which is in Doha, it's regularly noted as one of the top five to 10 museums in the world.  This is a place that exhibits traditional Islamic arts, because her father was a very serious collector of Islamic works of art. But she is now going out and buying Damien Hirst, Murakami, Jeff Koons, which you couldn't choose two forms of artistic expression that were more different. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Incredible.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes it is, and what's she's doing is establishing Doha as a centre for public museums.  In the United Arab Emirates in general, you have branching into two different groups, you have Doha and Qatar and Abu Dhabi, which are becoming centres for public museums and Dubai has become the centre of the commercial art world. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So they are turning the Middle East into an art destination?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes it's bigger than that.  It's a cultural hub and you see that when Victor Pinchuk talks about what he's doing in the Ukraine.  He talks about turning the Ukraine into a cultural hub. You know, as the fossil fuels as they start to run out, these centres in the Middle East are thinking what do we do after it all dries up? So they're attempting to set themselves up as cultural hubs, given their position on the globe, where most of us if we're flying to or from Europe, from this part of the world, we fly through the Middle East.  They're perfectly positioned to do so.  They've got a music festival, they've got a huge poetry competition, so there's a lot of other cultural events happening at the same time. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Now Victor Pinchuk whom you mentioned is also another character in this new cast of mega collectors and the mega wealthy.  He is as you point out, is Ukrainian and he seems to have a very strong relationship, especially with New York and the American art market. He's set up a major prize, which is a very wealthy prize for new and emerging artists but insisted that Ukrainians are also amongst the short list, so he's sort of tipping the balance a wee bit towards his home culture. 

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Well nationalism is definitely a driving force.  With a lot of these very wealthy people coming from new economies, the idea of consuming western culture, at the same time as promoting the local culture, it's a very strong driving force. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
I was going to ask you about that. So that is part of the motivation as well, it's about ensuring that their cultural traditions have a place on a global stage as well?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Absolutely it's not just about importing holus bolus, our western culture.  It's about creating a position for local artists and you see that happening quite a bit with dealers who work in the Middle East.  They bring in, they import artists from England and New York, but they also try to export the local artists as well. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Which is a critical part of their business model I am sure.  
MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes absolutely.  

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Let's talk about how quick this phenomenon has been, because looking from the outside and just observing it, it would seem to have happened quite quickly.  But I'm not au fait with the art world and perhaps there have been these sorts of spikes in the past.  Is this unusual?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
On the scale it is manifesting now, it is. It's the first time that I'm aware that it's occurred on this scale.  It's the old global village, slash social media, slash internet revolution that's really creating a market place where people can negotiate, buy and sell minute by minute around the world, which is something that didn't exist 10, 15 years ago.  But there have been spikes in the late '80s there was quite a lot of Japanese collectors who concentrated on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.  In the late '80s into the '90s there were a lot of Russian oligarchs who emerged to started buying modernist twentieth century artists' work.  So it has happened before, but just nothing on this scale.  I mean this really is the globalisation of the art market.  Christie's and Sotheby's would no sooner have thought to have an office in Shanghai 20 years ago, it wouldn't have been possible for a start, but that wouldn't have even entered their minds.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
The world has changed, the economics of the world have changed and the art market has come in behind that.  

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Absolutely and it is part of the reason why Christie's left Australia. It longer has an office here and Sotheby's it's basically a branch or a franchise, for want of a better word, of Sotheby's International. So neither auction house has a really permanent international presence in Australia, because they're focussing their attentions on the places they can make money, which is the Middle East, India and Asia. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So let's talk about the impact that's had on traditional collectors because I can imagine, I mean this is a world where snobbery is just part of the environment as a matter of course.  Are the older collectors getting their noses a bit out of joint?  Is there this sort of superiority around the motive for this sort of mega collecting, or do they just understand that this is part of the new environment?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Well there's a massive gulf between the collectors of old who would study an artist's work, attend their gallery openings, get to know the artists, select works of art, you know, from one show they'd pick the gem and they'd buy that. Then they might wait another 10 years before they bought a new one.  They were constructing what we think of as collections in the true sense, in that they were put together with a very personal narrative and very closely aligned to the collectors.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
And they were patrons in the old sense?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Absolutely, whereas someone like Victor Pinchuk and I'm not denigrating his approach to buying art or his approach to collecting. But he goes in and I can't remember which sale it was, but he bought half of Damien Hirst's entire exhibition.  So they're buying in bulk and in a way that really doesn't match up with the way people used to collect art.  

LYNNE HAULTAIN
I'm Lynne Haultain and this week on Up Close I'm speaking with art market expert Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios about the big business of art.  Meaghan, when it comes to competing in that sort of world, how do public galleries hold a candle to the sorts of prices that could be put down on the table by the al Thani's or the Pinchuk's of the world?  Does that mean that we are seeing a narrowing of the scope for the rest of us who get to see works in public galleries? In Australia or in regional United States or in the UK?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
You're absolutely right on the money.  I mean for one thing, the buying power of big public museums has been dramatically reduced.  For instance at the National Gallery of Victoria-----

LYNNE HAULTAIN
In Australia?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
In Australia, we have the Felton Bequest, which was a very large sum of money and it made the local museum one of the most powerful institutional collectors in the world, at the turn of the twentieth century.  Today, if a local gallery wants to buy something, they have to pass the hat around.  The equivalent of crowd funding, they have to find supporters who are willing to contribute to allow galleries to bid if they are buying at auction.  And it's not just Australia, this is an international phenomenon.
The other thing that's happened though is we've got the development of quite ordinary private museums.  For instance we were talking about Pinchuk in Ukraine, he's established a private museum. Qatar, private museum, there are an extraordinary number of private museums where the public can go and view these works of art. It's just that the curatorial program is being managed by a private individual rather than being an institution that's put together and governed as a means of preserving the local culture's cultural heritage.  

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Which raises some contentions because I did read that Abu Dhabi was looking to build a couple of franchises, in fact they've enlisted the support of two of the world's most prominent architects in [Frank] Gehry and [Jean] Nouvel to build a Guggenheim and more particularly a Louvre in-----

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes at the cost of $1.5 billion.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
-----in Abu Dhabi and there was a massive petition that was put together by the outraged French arts community about the fact that the Louvre was selling out big time.  That the transfer of both major collections and tourism potential was shifting, not only from Europe to the Middle East but from public to private hands. 

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
What is happening here of course is the Louvre is ceasing on an opportunity. When you think of the size of its collection, the cost of maintaining a collection on that scale is mind blowing.  So, if there's the opportunity to actually bring some more money in from another source, how are you going to turn down your nose at $1.5 billion?  In that sense, it's an enormous economic boom for Louvre. 
But in terms of and I'm using "air quotes" that you can't see on the radio, so they don't work so well, but in terms of the devaluing of that brand, if you can think of the Louvre as a brand, as I think we must, then there is that threat that by selling out to a private individual, you are actually placing some of your reputation in their hands.  This is what happened with the Guggenheim when they opened their branch in Las Vegas.  It was a very short lived venture, and was seen as quite seriously damaging to the Guggenheim brand. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
But Guggenheim does have Bilbao which has been a boon for both the city and the museum and it's done them both a great service.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
It has and this is what places like the U.A.E, this is where they're looking. They're looking at that and thinking if the Guggenheim can revitalise a small industrial town like Bilbao, what is it going to do for our huge sophisticated city; it will do wonders.  So I can understand why that is an appealing thing. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
We see it even in Australia with the Mona, the Museum of Old and New Art-----

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
In Hobart which has attracted huge attention and I think breathes new life into that small city.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Absolutely.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So it really is that tie up I suppose in terms of the marketing opportunity of the destination, the major collection and the huge amounts of money that can be thrown at development very quickly.  Meaghan, I'm really interested in the economics of all of this.  The art market has always had its ups and downs and very occasionally that sort of makes news in the broader public domain. I should imagine in 2008 it took a big hit, along with every other major form of investment, but has it rebounded?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
It has, if you don't inflation into account. The market this year is up the same levels it was at prior to the GFC, which is fairly impressive.  The GFC did have a significant dent on the market.  They went from clearance rates of about 80 to 90 per cent up to 100 per cent in auction sales. It dropped down to clearance rates of about 40 to 50 per cent which was a significant drop obviously. Prices overall are estimated to have dropped by about 7.5 per cent.  So a significant hit, but largely I think due to the intervention of these new buyers with lots of money, and lots of money to spend, it's actually buoyed the market. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So how risky is it?  

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Is art a good investment?  This is a question that I engage with very closely and I have done so in my professional life and now from an academic perspective.  If you look at the works of art at the very, very top of the market, then yes they are a good investment.  If you investment $100 million in a painting, there's a good chance you'll get that and more back if the future.  The unfortunate fact for the great majority of the art market, and here I'm not talking about the paintings sold at Sotheby's in New York, I'm talking about the paintings sold in commercial galleries around the world. Most works of art, if you buy it, walk out of the gallery, it's worth a fraction of what you paid for it. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So it depreciates very fast?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Immediately, it's the same as a new suit. This does not hold true for the works of art that have been circulating in market and have a very established price.  But there's a lot of work circulating at fairly high levels, that really won't have a resale value. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So you need good advice?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Absolutely.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Which brings us to the auction houses because they seem to have been integrating their functions, or at least broadening their functions to capture this new market that they've identified in the Middle East and Asia particularly, and marketing almost as dealers, is that the case, rather than just being the buyers and sellers, they actively pursue collectors?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Absolutely.  It used to be an auction house was just a sale room in which second hand goods were sold.  Predominately their clientele would be dealers. The dealers would come in and they'd sit around green baize tables, they would select and buy works of art, take them back to their galleries and sell them to collectors.  That was how it predominately worked until the late '70s, 1980s.  Then the auction houses started thinking, well we could actually make a much better margin if we actually started selling to private collectors. So they started marketing themselves differently and so you get the advent of glossy, beautiful, illustrated catalogues with long essays.  These glamorous showrooms with well-dressed staff walking around and, you know, expounding knowledgably about the work for sale. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
In hushed tones.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Very hushed.  Mahogany floors and brass railings and champagne flutes. So they've stepped into the dealer's role in that sense and that's been quite a marked development. The things they will do to recruit new buyers, particularly in this market place, because it used to be that most people knew who the potential collectors were, but the thing with this advent of this wave of new collectors, a lot of the auction houses don't actually even know who they are.  People turn up and buy works, they haven't even seen these people and they spend millions and millions of dollars.  
In fact I think there was auction relatively recently when it was estimated that a third of the buyers were first time buyers at a major auction.  So the auction houses who depend for their survival upon knowing who their buyers are, they were running around like headless chooks, having no idea who they were actually dealing with.  So stories about some of the things they'll do to recruit new buyers are incredibly innovative if you look at one way, vaguely hilarious if you look at it the other way.
These days, I've heard of auction houses running birthday parties for collectors' children. So that their children's friends get invited and most importantly the parents, as a means of the auction house staff then meeting these potential new customers, and looking at people's Instagram accounts and if they see one of their collectors side by side with someone at a party that they don't know, they'll ring up and try and get an introduction.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Yes it's hit a whole new level.  You're listening to Up Close and today we're following the money trail in the global art market with Doctor Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios who's been a critical observer of this trade for many years.  Meaghan, what is the sort of margin that Christie's and Sotheby's are making, and are they still the two dominant players in the global auction house market?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
They certainly are still the two dominant market players.  There are a number of others, Phillips and Bonhams who are also significant.  Their turnover is in the billions, Sotheby's was $5 billion last year I believe and Christie's was $3.5 billion.  They are running a very, very expensive business. The amount of money they have to invest to actually stage these auctions is significant.  If you look at the basic breakdown of where they take their revenue, from the people who buy the works of art, they get what is called a buyer's premium and that can be anywhere 15 and 25 per cent of the hammer price.  
For the people who are selling it, it can be anywhere from zero, if you have a significant work of art and you can negotiate your way through well with the auction house, you might get a zero per cent commission.  But, generally that would be around about 15 to 20 per cent, once you work it out.  So auction houses are generally getting between 30 and 40 per cent of the selling price. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So they're clipping the ticket of the buyer and the seller?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yeah. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Neat.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yeah, I have always had this slight issue with the buyer's premium, because it has a way of distorting the amount of money that goes back to the seller.  It's a way of disguising the amount of money the auction house is taking, because if you're selling something and the auction house came to you and said, yes but this is going to cost you 40 per cent of your sale price, you're not going to sell it.  But if you say, 20 per cent, okay that sounds a bit more reasonable. But because they then are essentially getting the buyer to take into account that extra 20 per cent, it does affect the outcome for the seller. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Yes absolutely.  Meaghan, what about regulation of this market though? Because huge amounts of money sloshing around the world in literally a heartbeat, in terms of winning bids, online, on the phone, massive amounts of money and goods transferring around the world.  How well regulated is it, and what sort of power can any single nation have over the way in which art is traded?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Look it's predominately unregulated.  There are things that you can't do, but there's no peak body that moderates behaviour.  In New York for instance you're not allowed to conduct auctions and have phony bidding.  But the way the auctioneers operate, you can't tell whether they're calling for a bid or they have a bid.  They're masterful, good auctioneers are masterful. It's a very, very dangerous world.  I mean a very prominent auctioneer once described it to me as the Wild West.  In that sense, it's quite a fraught environment for people to be buying and selling art.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Is it then open to deception, fraud, money laundering?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
It's certainly open to all manner of things.  I mean you have huge sums of money being exchanged.  Auction houses are notoriously averse to sharing any information about what it is that they do and who's buying and selling and what; they're very closely guard their secrets. So they're not going to tell authorities who's bought what and who's sold what.  They don't do that.  So if you're wanting to launder money and that does happen, it's the perfect environment in which to do it. Then you also have a lot of activities that in terms of shades of grey and actually this wasn't through auction, but Victor Pinchuk and Damien Hirst, you would have heard I'm sure of Damien Hirst's diamond studded skull, "For the love of God" it was called.  
He announced that it had sold for £50 million to an anonymous consortium which was lovely, a large sum of money.  It was later revealed that he was a member of that consortium along with Victor Pinchuk who has I believe the largest holdings of Damien Hirst's works in the world and Damien Hirst's dealer, Jay Jopling, so-----

LYNNE HAULTAIN
It was an inside job?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Well you know he's looking after his own market. But as far as what that then does to the prices of your other work, it has a very strong effect of putting it through a convex mirror and shooting it out the other way and making it look entirely different.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Quite distorting.  Meaghan, what about the artists?  I mean, clearly there are some who are doing very well out of this, Damien Hirst, as you've just mentioned and maybe another half dozen of the major artists who are working today.  But for the vast majority of artists, is this sort of beyond their comprehension or capacity to engage with? And does it narrow the funnel very tightly in terms of the number of artists that might actually be exhibited publically?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Well it certainly affects the revenue as it circulates in the art world.  I mean the art world is what in economic terms, it's a superstar market.  I don't love the term, but that's what it's called. And just as with music, the music industry, if you want to go and see the Rolling Stones and the tickets are $200 and you hear that there's someone else playing down the road and tickets are $20, you're not going to change your mind and go and see the other band because it's better value for money.  
The art world is the same.  If you want a Damien Hirst painting, if you want a Murakami sculpture, you're not going to look around the corner and say actually, there's something that's a tenth of the price, better value for money, we'll buy that instead.  What happens in the superstar market is you have revenue concentrated into an incredible amount at the very high end.  In Australia for instance, about 70 per cent of the revenue generation is generated by just eight artists at auction.  But a lot of what we're speaking about is of little relevance at all, to the great majority of artists who will never ever enter that realm. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
and has this always been the case?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes, if you walk around the great museums of Europe, there's only so many names you see on the wall and there were a lot of people making art at that time. The work keeps circulating, you go to an auction house, a local small auction you'll find hundreds of little paintings, a couple of hundred years old, a 100 years old, still circulating.  People still buy them and put them on their walls, do you know the artist?  No, but people like the work so it keeps circulating. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
So there is that split between the fashion at the top end, which is driven by celebrity, hyperbole, glamour and outrageous fortune and the more quotidian level of the market, which is probably more about the aesthetic?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Yes it's what you like and it's what appeals to you.  It's what you want on your wall and if you're spending a couple of hundred dollars to buy a painting because you love it and it suits the sofa, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It should be embraced and celebrated because that's what keeps most artists in work.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Meaghan art is obviously a very clear indicator of wealth, we see it move depending on which major industry sector is on the rise and therefore who's making stacks of money and can afford it.  But has anyone looked to see how it tracks against power?

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
No and it's a very interesting question because it seems that, and it makes sense that in an emergent economy, an emergent economic power is going to go hand in hand with emergent political power. So it does make sense that the tastes in the art that those people, that group is preferencing, is also going to rise in price and prominence, so that makes sense.  But I don't believe anyone's actually looked at it in any detail. 

LYNNE HAULTAIN
There's another piece of work for you. 

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Exactly, I know you've got me thinking.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

MEAGHAN WILSON-ANASTASIOS
Thank you Lynne.

LYNNE HAULTAIN
We've been talking about the global art market as a business phenomenon and as an indicator of the shifts in the world's wealth, with Doctor Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios from the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.  Doctor Wilson-Anastasios has contributed to The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing and you can read her commentary on a range of art issues on her blog, Art Matters, untangling the awkward relationship between art and money. 
Up Close is a production of the University of Melbourne, Australia, created by Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param.  This episode was recorded on 10 November 2014 and was produced by Kelvin Param and Eric van Bemmel with audio engineering by Gavin Nebauer.  I'm Lynne Haultain, thanks for listening and I hope you can join us again soon. 


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