Keen Competition Between London Galleries

Thursday, December 6, 2012

London has long been a magnet for the rich of the world. The city has everything that one could want in a metropolis. It is a financial center of course, but also a renowned center of art and culture, both high and popular. It boasts beautiful architecture and fantastic open green spaces, probably more than any comparable size city in the world. History comes to life on its streets, and each of the hundreds of neighborhoods has its own character. In recent years London's popularity has grown, particularly with the super-rich.
Harsh economic winds have blown through the world, but property prices in London have not taken the hit experienced by other locations. Therefore, though expensive, London property is seen as a good investment by the very rich. Recent governments have enhanced London's attractions by maintaining tax regimes, both in terms of income tax, capital gains tax and property tax that have been unusually kind to the wealthy.
The effect that the presence of such a large and wealthy elite has had in recent years is reflected not only in inflated property prices but in other spheres too, notably that of fine art. Like property, art can serve as a refuge for investors who have been scared away from the stock market by recent events.
A London location is becoming essential for more and more international art galleries, notably those from New York. For example, Larry Gagosian, widely considered the most important art dealer in the world, already has two London galleries, and Zwirner and Pace have arrived too. Michael Werner, who represents the extremely popular artist, Peter Doig, has opened up a gallery in Upper Brook Street, and others are planning to follow suit.
The trend is gathering momentum, since big name artists want to be assured that their work is being exposed to the London market. Major collectors from Russia, the Middle East and Asia often feel more at home in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the UK capital than they do in New York, and those are the collectors with serious money to spend. Gagosian's established presence in London is seen as a serious threat by other New York gallery owners without London branches.
The influx has meant that the existing UK galleries now need to wake up to increased competition on their doorsteps, as foreign galleries move in to town. In the end though, the trend should be good for everyone involved in the London art market.
London has always been a hub of creative activity, the raw material for the art market. Now, along with the city's manifest attractions for the rich, the growth in major exhibition events in London, for example, the Frieze exhibition in Regents Park, has also fed into the city's development as one of the premier art markets of the world. Collectors enjoy these gala events, which they attend with VIP status, and the social whirl which goes along with them is part of the attraction too.
It seems that, with all that it has going for it, the art world in London is only set to become more and more important internationally.


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