Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Valuation services bring stability, strength in art market

By - Ashok Nag
KOLKATA: Valuation services revolving around art extended by leading international auction houses inject a degree of stability and strength inthe market. This system could also come of good use in India if introduced in a concerted way by auctioneers and leading galleries."The present downturn in the art sector, especially beyond the auction circuit in the retail and dealer segment, is making a cross-section of buyers question the intrinsic value of art as an asset class. If one does not read too much into the recessionary conditions, the position of art as an asset is proved by the fact that top auction houses abroad run a valuation service where they carry out a detailed cataloguing and evaluation of art collections," art connoisseur and Kolkata’s oldest gallery owner Prakash Kejariwal, told ET.A spokesperson of famed international auction house Sotheby’s added, "If a client approaches us, we are happy to do valuations for their artworks.
We look at various factors including condition, provenance, artist, year, medium and quality of work. Of course, in India, we only do this for works under 100 years old, because pieces beyond that span come under the Antiquities Act."According to Mr Kejariwal, this evaluation by these leading overseas auctioneers is accepted by banks and insurance companies. "Recently, a section of Indian collectors have got some of their artworks assessed and the results were fairly encouraging. Therefore, those who have been buying art should not be entirely disheartened by the current atmosphere. It may not be a surprise if artworks again see an appreciation over a period of time like it happened in the boomtime. Of course, high value art should follow their own price graph as they have scaled international levels.
But, quality art, which is still lying low, can be poised for appreciation in future," Mr Kejariwal said.On the other hand, as far as Contemporary art goes, this genre is competing with international art of the same category with prices comparable to tags in other western and Asian countries. So, the price rise in their case will depend on world trends in this sphere, economic conditions in these regions and the further internationalisation of Contemporary art."Taking the cue from auctioneers in the West, recognised Indian galleries and auction houses can kick off valuation services. It is important to get experienced galleries involved in this process because they can not only perform the job of evaluating artworks, but can also authenticate the pieces based on their track record," Mr Kejariwal said.
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