‘Tough year but art dealers are hanging in there’

After a bumper 2007, the Australian art auction market is down nearly 35 per cent this year, with $114.5 million of art works going under the hammer.

Several important paintings, including an 1830s John Glover landscape and one of Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly pictures, failed to sell at auction because of prohibitive reserve prices.

…  Auction sales peaked at a record $175.6 million last year. This year’s $114.5 million worth of trade, though well down on last year, is still higher than the total sales figure for 2006.

Unlike the early 1990s crash, when several commercial galleries and dealers were forced to close their doors, industry players say the current scenario is less bleak. Significantly, serious collectors who stopped buying during last year’s overheated art market are slowly returning.

Art adviser David Hulme said: “Good art will survive any crisis, and the committed collectors will always be there, whether it’s the primary market or the secondary auction market. Perhaps 2007 was an aberration; time will tell.”…

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