According to an Artprice study, Qatar will soon be the global leader in the museum industry.
In its forthcoming study of the museum industry over the period 2000 - 2012, Artprice and Organ Museum Research found that more museums and Contemporary art centers were opened worldwide over this period than in the previous 200 years, and they conclude that the period 2012 - 2017 promises to see the opening of even more cultural centres.
Among the many aspects covered in this study, Artprice and Organ Museum Research, focused at length on determining which countries are among the global museum leaders.
In fact, until 1980, museums, which were born in Europe, and particularly in France in the 18th century, were the reserve of a relatively small elite of countries. In its original format, the museum defied economic logic and essentially fulfilled a conservation mission as a public institution. However, towards the end of the 20th century, the Unites States principally, and the Guggenheim in particular, transformed the role of the museum from a State mission of conservation into what Artprice Organ Museum Research and its founding President, thierry Ehrmann, refer to as a “museum industry”.
This long study, to be published in early 2013, analyses more than 90,000 museums and Contemporary art centers, all Artprice clients, and provides a much clearer picture of what was previously a murky field, particularly with respect to the economic aspect of the museum industry which has become, in itself, a genuine economic sector in the 21st century. Never before has demand to visit new museums been so strong, irrespective of their location.
This analysis could not ignore the visionary words of André Malraux in his Imaginary Museum: "The role of museums in our relationship with art is so great that it is difficult to imagine life without them… or that they have existed for just two centuries. The 19th century lived with them, and we are still living with them, and we forget that they imposed on their audiences an entirely new relationship with art. They helped to liberate the artworks they brought together from their function."
As part of this study which focuses on all continents, Artprice has notably observed that for more than 18 months, Quatar has been at the origin of an impressive number of search requests on Artprice databases. In effect, it is now clear that Qatar aims to become the global leader in the international museum industry. The ratio of search requests per head of the Qatari population (1.8 million) is almost 45 times higher than that of Germany for example.
In simple terms, Qatar, which is not even the size of a German Länder, issued a total number of search requests roughly equivalent to the number generated by Germany. Artprice therefore decided to conduct a thorough investigation, in the context of this study, to explain why and how Qataris conduced so many searches.
While respecting the principle of absolute confidentiality for its many Qatari subscribers that include professional and amateur collectors, Artprice has been able to identify certain parameters that highlight the tremendous “war machine” that is turning Qatar into the new "market maker" of the art market. It should be noted that all of Qatar's cultural institutions are upscale subscribers to Artprice group (Qatar Museum Autority, Mathaf Museum, MIA, National Museum of Qatar Q.M.A .... etc) as are almost all of the Royal Family who are responsible for the country's cultural development.
In terms of the search requests originating from Qatar, Artprice finds on the one hand, a very impressive number of requests per user, and on the other hand, that nearly 50% of the consultations involve searches on our indices and analytical tools.
According to Artprice's data search statistics, with the exception of searches launched by appraisers, insurers and auction houses, a normal consultation is about 80% focused on the auction results along with a picture of the work and all the sales-related data, and 20% focused on index tools allowing, as with financial markets, the definition of the artist with a whole series of indices.
It is therefore clear that the requests from Qatar, which are of course perfectly legal, prove unambiguously, according to Artprice that we are dealing with top-level international experts who are looking for works of art, with values systematically above the EUR 100,000 threshold, and who are at the origin of numerous bids above the EUR 1 million line.
Similarly, in its museum industry study and its subsequent in-depth analysis of Qatar, Artprice has observed search requests focused on very specific periods, currents or artists with specific searches on certain nationalities.
Obviously – respecting the ethical rules of the profession of issuers of primary information source - we can easily understand that Qatar, via its ten museums, Contemporary art centers and foundations, is conducting a faultless strategy involving searching for the best works by well-known artists, and, taking advantage of Artprice's data to ensure the traceability of the targeted works, and using its very substantial financial resources to bid systematically with a margin that according to our study amounts to about 40 to 45% above “market prices”.
This premium is not unusual because all the targeted works are works of museum quality, and many are key works in the history of art. As such, the 45% premium is no management error… but it is raising the global art market on artists whose works are being acquired substantially above their price index.
We are witnessing the construction of veritable collections that are in perfect harmony with the 21st century art market, emerging countries such as China and safe investments like Post-War American art.
In some cases, Artprice notes that entire collections, North American and / or European have been purchased privately or at auctions by various Qatari cultural foundations to accelerate Qatar's conquest of the art market and establish itself as an unavoidable player on the global art market, with museums and Contemporary art centers that can easily compete with their American and European counterparts.
Anecdotally, we have observed intense searches on artists like Richard Serra, Murakani, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Louis Bourgeois, Rothko and Paul Cézanne.
Hence the purchase of Paul Cezanne's The Card Players for $250 million, which represents the largest transaction ever recorded on the art market. Concerning this acquisition, based on the data requests launched by Qatari cultural authorities, Artprice can confirm 99% that this transaction has taken place. Amongst its professionals subscribers Artprice also has all the major advisors and curators that work for Qatar. It is also worth noting that Qatar tried in vain to buy Christie's and is still seeking to acquire one or more international auction operators.
Still amongst the major works, we note that several months before the sale of Edvard Munch's The Scream, various entities (subscribers to Artprice's professional screens) extensively studied using index tools and ultra-targeted searches the whole history of Munch's works and his biography. Likewise for Paul Cézanne and Richard Serra.
After analyzing hundreds of thousands of data searches, we can see that the Qatari cultural authorities have a pragmatic but visionary approach. The great strength of Qatar is the Sheikh's motto "nothing but the best" and "I'm only interested in masterpieces." What is interesting is that the Qatari authorities are daring in their choice of artists, demonstrating a clear desire to modernize their country. They are generating a worldwide reputation and will undoubtedly be in the global top three if not the number one position in 2013. This hypothesis is being confirmed every day now as a virtual certainty.
However, with Islam as their State religion, the Qataris are preserving their Islamic culture. They also realize that it is necessary to impose a certain pedagogy for Qataris and their general visitors, and, according to our analysis of their data searches on Artprice, this pedagogy includes the undeniable influence of certain artistic movements such as Impressionism and Cubism, and a certain European influence in general.
Again, according to our analysis of their data searches, they have extensively studied monumental sculptures, and their selection of Richard Serra's major work, 7, a crude steel tower measuring 24 meters high, now located in the MIA Park, was the culmination a ruthless selection among major sculptors. Similarly, after analyzing a whole strata of Contemporary Chinese artists, they retained only the Chinese artists whose influence is truly global, such as Cai Guo-Qiang and the Franco-Chinese Yan Pei Ming.
Coincidentally, in 2012 the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art in Doha (Mathaf, meaning museum in Arabic) hosted Cai Guo-Qiang's Homecoming, an installation consisting of 62 boulders.
Our analysis also reveals intense data research on Middle Eastern and North African artists, and the Qataris have selecting the best among them such as the French artist of Algerian origin Kader Attia, the Syrian Adel Abidin, Khalil Rabah, the Iraqi Dia Azzawi, the Moroccan Farid Belkahia, the Egyptian Ahmed Nouar, Walid Raad, Ghada Amer, Mounir Fatmi and Zineb Sedira.
Finally, Artprice's analysis of Qatar's activity has revealed that the country's Mathaf is in the process of setting up the in vitro invention of a veritable artistic culture of the Arab nation. This strategy is highly virtuous because these young Arab artists, present in Europe and sometimes in North America, have very strong price indices that are rising spectacularly on the back of the support that they are receiving from the Qatari authorities at auctions.
Artprice's analysis of Qatar's data searches also reveals that they are not afraid of studying entire collections, such as the Sonnabend collection, which, several months before buying it, they scanned all the works and artists in the collection. Likewise for Claude Berri's donation to the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
This practice, which is perfectly laudable, has been at the origin of North America's strength since the 1950s. All these actions, detailed in Artprice's analysis of the Qatari authorities' data searches, are turning Qatar and its capital Doha into a global Contemporary art hot spot, in fact, into the world capital of art. The competition at the top is nowadays between China, Qatar and Abu Dhabi.
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