What were the performances of the art and collectible objects market in Romania in 2020?
What were the performances of the art and collectible objects market in Romania in 2020? RRI talked to Alina Panico, PR Manager with the A10 by Artmark, about the most important auction houses and art transactions, about trends in the market and about the most sought-after Romanian fine artists:
Alina Panico: “Operating in Romania’s art market are 5 auction houses: A10 by Artmark, Alice, Quadro, Historic and Vicart. If we were to make an arithmetic means of the top 10 auction sales in 2020, we get an average of 116,250 euro. Compared to the figure for 2019, the difference is not substantial: about negative 2.36%, but in terms of the total market volume, preliminary data point to an approx. 20% increase in 2020 of the number and value of auction sales compared to 2019. Most of the Romanian art auctions involved heritage items, especially works by national “classics”. The year 2020 brought a new all-time record for the Romanian art market: the painting “Peasant Woman with Distaff” by Nicolae Grigorescu was sold for 220,000 euro. The national painter Nicolae Grigorescu is followed by great masters Ștefan Luchian and Nicolae Tonitza, whose works “Vase with carnations” and “Irina” sold for 125,000 Euro and 120,000 euro respectively. Heritage art was followed in 2020 by contemporary art, where the record was set by “untitled (memory)” by the most sought-after Romanian artist internationally, Adrian Ghenie. His work was sold for 110,000 euro in 27 steps taking 10 minutes and 42 seconds, from an opening price of 20,000 euros.”
We also asked Alina Panico about the art authentication process. How certain can buyers be about a work of art that they purchase?
Alina Panico: “Several aspects are taken into account in authenticating a painting: the themes, canvas, colour scheme, brush strokes, references in the media of the time or in exhibition catalogues. Collectibles are also certified by experts authorised by the Culture Ministry and qualified in various areas, such as fine art or decorative art. Expert reports look for more information than the artist’s signature. Subsequently, a qualified appraiser will tell us the financial value of that particular art work in the market. Only after taking all these steps can buyers be 100% certain of the authenticity of the works they intend to purchase.”
Alina Panico also told us about the profile of the art buyer in Romania, about collectors and the Romanian record in last year’s art market:
Alina Panico: “We have smart and educated buyers, who continue to purchase art not only for its cultural value, but also as a financial instrument to preserve their savings at a time of great uncertainty. When you keep your savings in art works, you expect at the end of a crisis to get back at least the same amount of money you have invested. We have buyers who prefer an exclusively online platform, and given this year’s context, which encouraged the transfer of all art sales online, the number of active accounts opened by art collectors or investors tripled in a matter of months. We also have buyers who embrace the charity causes that we promote, and in 2020 we had as many as 6 charity auctions. If we take into account the doubling of the number of charity auctions in a year that has confused and tried all of us, and the 20% increase in transactions involving art works and collectible objects, the conclusion that may surprise many of us is that at difficult times many Romanians made a clear choice to support fundamental and long-standing values like art, cultural identity, national history and charity. There is no official standings of art collectors in Romania, but we could say that over the past few years people have come to understand that keeping art works in one’s home is not necessarily conditional on substantial incomes. Romanians have started to purchase collectible objects, art works with medium financial costs. But in 2020 the record was set by the internationally acclaimed Romanian contemporary artist Adrian Ghenie, whose work in the “Lidless Eye” series, deconstructing Van Gogh’s portrait, was sold by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for more than 5 million euro. Ghenie also holds the second, third and fourth places in this top, with works sold at Sotheby’s or Christie’s for 2 to 4 million euro.”
At the end of our talk, Alina Panico drew a few conclusions on the year 2020 in the Romanian art market:
Alina Panico: “So 2020 stayed on the upward trend that took shape in the Romanian art market a few years ago. With spectacular increases similar to those seen in previous years, 2020 was a year when players in the art market focused on setting new records and unexpected market increases, on finding an alternative market to invest their money, and art was a highly stable option compared to banks, for instance.” (tr. A.M. Popescu)