On 31 January, the Fine Art Fund Group issued its report on art sales at two leading auction houses, Christie's and Sotheby's, during the 2012 fiscal year.
The report, entitled "Economic uncertainty fuels the top end of the art market," points to the fact that, despite the current economic crisis, last year saw high-end art become "an attractive asset for High Net Worth Individuals looking for diversification and capital protection."
"However, it is currently at the high-end of the art market that one finds sufficient liquidity and demand," the report states.
The report looks at sales of old master, impressionist and modern and contemporary art works, underlining that both auction houses saw a combined increase of 5.9 per cent, from $6.27 billion in 2011 to $6.64 billion in 2012.
Chinese art was the only sector that witnessed a decrease of interest among buyers, dropping by 29 per cent in 2012 in comparison with the previous year.
"Market experts feel that the intervention by the Chinese government in 2012, on the back of allegations of tax avoidance with regards to the import of art into mainland China, has made the market nervous and kept buyers away from the auction rooms," the Fine Art Fund Group explains in their report.
The group goes on to point to significant interest in Latin American art at both auction houses, adding that many major collectors and galleries were focusing on this region.
Modern British sculpture also saw increases, according to the report. "Several of the British modern sculptors, such as Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth, are riding a global wave of renewed interest and appreciation for sculpture," the report states.
The group concludes by estimating that in the next three to five years, "we are likely to see a re-positioning of what before would be considered second-tier artists or works, moving into first-tier as availability of second -tier works dwindles, the same way as late Picasso works were considered second rate, but today are among the artist's highest valued works."
Though both Sotheby's and Christie's sold a number of oriental and Arab artwork in 2012, the group did not provide details in their report. However, in its opening statement, it mentions briefly that there is a strong positive outlook for modern and contemporary art from the Middle East.
The Fine Art Fund Group, founded in 2001 by Philip Hoffman, is a leading art investment house and advises on over $200 million assets under contract. The group also represents some leading banks through their art advisory subsidiary, Fine Art Investment & Research.
The group aims to develop and advise investment vehicles that invest in fine art, offering a rare opportunity to invest in art with the added benefit of diverse professional expertise. The group operates in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.