“Buy the best, forget the rest” has become the conventional wisdom for collectors in today’s investment-minded art market. But what does “the best” mean? Clearly it meant different things to the 77,000 people who flocked to Art Basel Miami Beach this month.
The fair, the last major event of 2015 for the hectic contemporary art market calendar, defied reports of bubbles bursting and demand cooling.
On the one hand, toward the top of the price scale, the New York dealer Van de Weghe sold a 1954 Francis Bacon painting, “Man in Blue VI,” to an American collector for $13.5 million, almost twice the $7.7 million it made at Christie’s in 2013. And on another, there were artists’ estates. At a time when some collectors are becoming more risk-averse, fresh pieces by highly regarded, deceased artists have an obvious allure.