Art Is Beyond Price Tags Says Luxe Market Analyst Gaurav Bhatia

    Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby's Ex MD,

    Although it is difficult to put a tag on art, yet it is a billion-dollar industry.

    For an aesthete, art is much more than what meets the eye. Sometimes art that “seems to be painted much like a child” becomes worth millions of dollars. Serial entrepreneur , Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex MD, says, “Appreciation of art is an art in itself. Hence, for an admirer, looking at a painting is like listening to the story that an artist is trying to tell. It is his self-expression.”

    Why some paintings are so expensive and others not?

    Bhatia said that every good piece of work requires admiration and appreciation, but the value of any object is as good as what people are willing to pay.

    “While art is not bound with money, yet it is a billion-dollar industry. Some paintings are worth millions and some not so expensive, and that can be sometimes very subjective.

    A painting could be a collectible for some, for others, it might just be, well a painting and purely decorative. However, there are multiple factors on how the price of paintings is determined in general terms.”

    Supply and Demand

    Usually, when supply fails to catch up with the rising demand in the market, the prices go up. “Art becomes exclusive depending on the artist, his subject and style and eventually its meaning. It’s price and demand can be driven by its gallery or agent who promotes it, to the collectors that patronize it. To its popularity and reach and the price tag becomes a factor of this.

    “Usually the paintings of the artists who are no more with us becomes exclusive and hence their value in the market.

    You will find some of the most amazing pieces preserved in the museums and they are just beyond the quotient of price,” says Gaurav Bhatia.

    For instance, a pair of paintings by Zao Wou-Ki was sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $65.1 million and $11.5 million in September 2018.

    What drives people to buy it?

    Bhatia said that there can be multiple reasons why people buy art.

    He says, “It might just be an investment for some. Most often, it is the pleasure of owning art. It is something that is to be experienced, admired, and enjoyed, and for some, shared and even flaunted. These are some of the most common reasons why bidders pay huge prices for art.”

    From an investment perspective, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was sold for just $10,000 in 2005 and then $450 million in 2017. Therefore, sometimes returns on investment in art can be coruscating. Contemporary art is being admired by aesthetes and is a great economic opportunity.”

    Having said that, he also indicated towards cultural and social values of art that cannot be easily translated into prices. Therefore, for him, every art is beyond the questions of investment and consumption. He calls every unique piece of art “a masterpiece and worth curiosity if not complete engagement.”

    Naming some of the top priced artists in India Bhatia mentioned, “V.S. Gaitonde, Tyeb Mehta, Raza, Souza and Husain. Amrita Sher-Gil remains the single most powerful female artist.”

    Gaurav Bhatia is the founder and CEO of a lifestyle advisory cell — Maison India. With over two decades of experience in the luxury market, he has served as the marketing director of LVMH, Moet Hennessy India and as Managing Director of Sotheby’s India amongst others.