The Dealers speak out

They’re the ones who murmur into the ears of collectors. Gallerists play a crucial role in the tribal-art economy. For this special issue, a number of them, each with their own specialities, have agreed to share their feelings on the sector. Confidences. At auctions, the eclectic nature of the tribal-art market indicates sure growth in the long term, both in terms of the number of lots placed on sale and their proceeds, even if the last three years have seen heavy fluctuations, if not a slight decline. However, by overshadowing the reality of the world of dealers, auction results are only a partial indicator of the health of a sector characterised by deep restructuring. Between a generational shift among collectors, sourcing difficulties, and a complex balance between auction houses and dealers, what does the future hold? Collectors: a new generation takes the reins? In the eyes of Alain Lecomte from the gallery Abla & Alain Lecomte, specialised in ancient African arts, there’s no doubt about it: the sector is in for a shakeup: “The tribal-art market is at its early stages; we are talking about a form of art that is still relatively unknown by the international market. Everything is yet to be achieved. The current market — more specifically, that of ancient African art, but in my opinion, the same goes for other forms of tribal art — is mainly made up of passionate enthusiasts, people who invest themselves, who read specialist books, who spend a great deal of time on the topic, without necessarily being very well off. These are sincere collectors, and their number is growing, both in Europe and in the United States. They need to hurry up and create their collections, because soon the African continent is going to wake up. We can see...

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TEFAF cancels Beijing 2014 project

Beijing, 17 December 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). While TEFAF recently announced the possibility of hosting a fair in Beijing in 2014, in partnership with Sotheby’s, it seems that the project is not going ahead. In a press release, TEFAF officials explained that they had “reluctantly come to the conclusion that a fair of this scale, as envisaged, cannot take place in Beijing at this time”. This decision was due in part to “feedback that we received from art dealers, who have told us that most of them think it is still too early [to go]”. According to The New York Times, many art dealers did not like the idea of giving a percentage of their sales to Sotheby’s. There were also concerns regarding the costs and risks for the organisers of such an event, especially since most of the objects and works which are popular in Maastricht at the moment – particularly Old Master paintings – are not yet hugely popular among Chinese collectors. The Chinese market, which is the second biggest in the world according to the latest TEFAF report, was worth $13.7 billion in 2012. As stated by Ben Janssens, the Board Chairman for the Dutch fair: “We feel now is the time to further develop our presence in China, one of the most important art markets.” Sotheby’s has stated that this collaboration should enable it to “take advantage of the free port that Gehua is developing in the free exchange zone in Tianzhu, Beijing, and which will serve as a storage area, thanks to its tax...

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