Mykhaylo Vasylenko: “The collectors, and not only Ukrainian, are often creating the trends on the art market”

22 April 2016

It is commonly believed, that the sellers, namely, the gallerists, auctioneers, private dealers, are making the game at the art market. Indeed, they are the ones who set a price for a painting, and decide, who can be sold, and whose works bear no artistic value. Collectors, in their turn, define the final demand on authors and works. A classic formula of the civilized contemporary art market includes three main elements: artist – dealer – collector.

In Ukraine, on the other hand, with its immature and imperfect art market, a professional dealer is omitted, and the works are being bought from the authors directly. By removing the dealer, the art consultant and the critic from the chain, and generally cutting out the middle-man, inexperienced buyers are chasing the low prices. As a result, the collections are being filled with pedestrian and unmarketable works. The collectors realize the outcome of their actions only as they gain experience.

Mykhailo Vasylenko – co-founder of the “Golden Ratio” auction house

Some “fresh” collectors are devoted to a few authors so much - it virtually creates a name for these artists on the market, and this fame is not well-earned, as the artistic value of the works of these artists is quite low. As a result, private collections along with whole market, are filled with artworks of low quality. Countries with a proper market structure have long abandoned the “direct sales”. For example, in Great Britain and USA, in almost 100% of cases, a professional proven dealer is involved in the process of acquiring the artwork, guaranteeing that the buyer will get a quality piece.

Collectors, and not only Ukrainian, are creating the trends on the art market, although not without the input from their gallerist and auctioneer advisors. A recent trend is buying art through specialized online marketplaces. The most famous are Paddle8, ArtNet, Artsy, Saatchi Online. Ukraine have recently also got one - ODA (One Day Auction). It is an art marketplace and a social network for the art lovers at the same time. What makes the collectors to believe in the art-themed online resources? They are convenient, save time, provide a large selection of works as the dealers are competing with the level of the artworks and the prices.

The level of trust for the internet resources raises daily, and art is no exception. There are proofs, that private collectors are gradually moving to buying art online. Particularly, in 2013 the volume of the online art market constituted $1,57 billion, in 2014 – $2,64 billion. The estimated number for 2019 is $6,3 billion and more.

Private collectors can influence the market both from within and from without. I am talking about the function of enlightenment – the demonstration of the collection for the wide audience, handing over some of the works to the museums. The resources, specifically financial, of the latter are quite limited, and that is why “new blood” of fresh works is in great need. It is more than relevant for Ukraine, where the museum collections are updated rare if ever.

The public demonstration of private collections is a big deal. It contributes to the general ‘artification’ of the nation. As the people grow interested in art, the new collector appear. Large-scale quality exhibitions are rare in Ukraine, and private collections are sometimes capable of demonstrating the level of works even higher, than that of museum exhibitions. It influences the art-market directly. The interest to the well-known authors is always reignited after big personal exhibitions, the demand and the sales follow. One of the most famous modern collectors to be displaying their private collections publically is Charles Saatchi, who is doing this since the 1985 in his own galleries, and Roman Abramovich, who is using British public galleries for the exhibitions of his works.

Nevertheless, not every collector is ready to share his treasure. In the last couple of years, a new product for the collectors has been emerging - a professional art repository. When the collection of a non-public collector goes over few hundreds, and often even thousands of works, even a Scottish castle could not manage such assembly. This is when the banks with their art vaults, and lately private companies with huge safe repositories, come to the rescue. In particular, this trend can be observed in the Great Britain, where the collectors spend big money both to buy, and to store their collections.