For one thing, these eight- and nine-figure prices are only really possible for works consigned by museums or large art institutions, although there is a small elite of high-net-worth individuals who compete to acquire these rare works at auction.
While much rides on the performance of these works at auction, it also detracts from the fact that healthy growth exists at lower price points, which in turn points to resilience in the market for investing in art.
The attractive returns on art over the last few years have outperformed many other investments, and the art market has become an independent, liquid, and efficient market on all continents. Along the way, it has resisted the fallout from global crises such as 9/11 and the financial crash of 2007-8, proving its resilience. The consistent growth in the art market over the past 20 years has also been fuelled by other factors. There has been a rapid increase in the art-buying population from about 500,000 after 1945 to about 90-million in 2018; there has also been a significant reduction in the average age of market players, including buyers, as well as a major geographical expansion of the market to nearly all of Asia, the Pacific Rim, India, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.
As Artprice also points out, another massive market driver is the way in which the museum industry has changed. More museums opened between 2000 and 2014 than in the previous two centuries — about 700 new museums a year. The same process has been taking place in South Africa — obviously on a much smaller scale — with the recent opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and the Norval foundation in the Cape, and the impending opening of the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria.