Skip to main content

As the situation in Ukraine evolves, businesses should be mindful of potential risks to their people, assets, operations, or supply chains in the region and globally. Marsh, as part of the Marsh McLennan family of companies, has created a page with information, tools, and resources related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Please visit the page for the latest information.

March 30, 2017

A look ahead at art market trends

Consult an advisor who specializes in fine art insurance to assist you by suggesting vetted service providers and recommending insurance coverage.

Ginny Hunter

Request a Personal Risk Review

Market trends in art may not be the first thing you think of when considering the purchase of a fine art piece – you may want it in your collection because the artist is a favorite, the subject of the piece is compelling, or it could simply match the décor in your home or office. Regardless of why you purchase fine art, it is important to stay on top of the value of your collection and the fine art market trends that can affect its value now and in the future.

In 2016, the fine art market seemed to take a respite. The incredible success of the market in previous years was not generally seen as sustainable, and the sales in 2016 confirmed those suspicions. After a record-setting year in 2014, the 2015 market was energized when Christie’s set a new world auction record with the $179 million sale of Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger, Version O. Then in 2016, Christie’s reported a 16 percent decline in sales, with sales also down at Sotheby’s and other auction houses.

Much of the downward trend for 2016 was attributed to collectors being more cautious. Buyers gravitated toward more secure investments, such as historical and seasoned names, rather than speculative purchases. However, as new buyers come into the market, auction houses have begun to adjust their selling strategies to appeal to a new generation of art collectors. As the type of collector changes, the type of art they are interested in is changing as well.

So what trends can we expect throughout the rest of 2017? Popularity in some expected and unexpected areas:

  • Old masters – Often considered a secure investment, works of the Old Masters have been reinvigorated by the discovery of a drawing believed to be by Leonardo da Vinci. The Martyred Saint Sebastian is set for auction in June, valued at $16 million – $4 million higher than the current record for a da Vinci sketch.

  • Seniors – A new focus has turned to the industry’s elder generation. As galleries begin to feature works of more senior artists, sales of their work are climbing. This movement is led by 101-year-old Carmen Herrera, as one of her canvases recently sold for $970,000 after a solo exhibit in New York. 

  • Millennials – As buyers begin to more freely expand their collections, millennial artists will see increased popularity. Though it could be considered a risk to invest in a young artist because the work may not hold its value over time, the normally low price points may be worth the gamble. A purchase under $10,000 might not carry as high expectations for a collector as would a multi-million dollar purchase of a work by an Old Master.

  • Online sales – The influence of not only young artists, but young buyers and their use of social media has spurred an increase in online art sales. A lower purchase amount is also expected with online sales, but the lower price points seem to make the online market more stable – significant annual growth is expected to spur online sales to $9.5 billion by 2020.

  • Asia – It’s not the Asian art, but the Asian art collectors who are becoming a driving force in the market. For example, a Chinese company is now the largest shareholder of Sotheby’s stock. The influence even prompted auction houses to delay their sales until after the Chinese New Year, as Asian buyers are beginning to purchase more Western and contemporary art pieces.

As trends continue to fluctuate, it is important to consult an advisor who specializes in fine art insurance to assist you by suggesting vetted service providers and recommending insurance coverage that will provide the appropriate protection and offer lasting peace of mind.

Depending on the artist and nature of your collection, auction season can often set the barometer for new valuations. Stay informed through websites such as and, or consult experts in art evaluation at advisor agencies such as Pall Mall, Winston, or Gur Johns. By reviewing your current inventories annually and updating values with regular appraisals, you can help make sure the value of your collection is up to date with the marketplace.

MMA PCS does not sponsor or endorse any of the organizations or websites referenced in this article.