Borro is seeing the same uncertainty that has affected the housing market in last couple of months reflected in a cooling art market. With the market already contracting 7% in value of goods sold in 2015 compared with 2014, most experts were already predicting a calm 2016.
This has been especially true in the UK, where the spectre of Brexit has led to increased numbers of buyers holding their pieces rather than selling. While the EU has brought certain burdens to the UK art market – Artist’s Resale Rights (royalties due to artists and their estates), and export licenses – it has opened up the European market to UK dealers and auction houses. However, Brexit could affect import duties for dealers and sellers in the UK selling to the Continent, making UK based art and antiques more expensive to European buyers. As with the economy at large, no one can predict exactly how a UK exit from the EU would affect the art market. This unpredictability has led to softening activity in the UK art market.
“London auction houses are being more cautious with their estimates,” said Samantha Lilley, Borro’s director of valuations, “There were a few big results in New York this year, unique pieces are still commanding high prices, but there is a sense that the European market has a bigger question mark hanging over it.”
The UK is easily the largest art market in Europe, exporting £92m of art and antiques to the Continent, and importing £357m worth. Naturally therefore, what happens in the UK has an impact on values in the market overall.
“Back when the company first launched in 2009 we saw a lot of clients who didn’t want to sell simply because they didn’t like the prices they were seeing in the market,’ said Claire Barrington-Jones, director of sales, ‘when selling isn’t an option, clients look for other ways of getting value out of their collection. Over the last few months we’ve seen a 40% increase in the numbers of clients looking for lending to tide them over until the market sorts itself out.’