While we hear doom and gloom all over the art world ethnographic art seems to be holding its own. Considering economic pressures the auction markets performed pretty well in the U.S. and Europe this summer. Gneerally the private medium markets did suffer while high end pieces continue to find interested buyers. There was much complaining after Santa Fe and the Ethnographic show and the American Indian show at the newly renovated Sweeney center. For those dealers that were buying on letters of credit in 2008, there is a problem now servicing the note and obtaining new credit. Expect to see more vultures circling both the dealers and the sales in 2010. There is not much reason to believe the economic scene will improve in the next 18 months. And in fact investors like Buffet are pulling back from stocks in anticipation of another major dip in the stock market. As a dealer you better be providing value in whatever you offer whether it be art or services. As a collector, selling quietly is certainly a safer bet than the auctions which could become more of a gamble as the worldwide recession deepens. I do know of some major objects that are scheduled to be auctioned in both Europe and U.S in the next 18 months; so it will be interesting.
Whatever you as a collector or dealer need to do, it is prudent to seek some outside opinions before executing a plan. This time like many in past, can be a great opportunity to both make money and expand your holdings. The cost of professional advice is cheap compared to the potential loss or gain.