Mary Rozell on How the Art Market Has Changed

Mary Rozell on How the Art Market Has Changed

The New York based art historian and global head of the UBS Art Collection, explores the diverse and impactful shifts in the art world that have taken place in less than a decade. These include the normalization of art as a financial investment, the global proliferation of private museums, and the blurring of traditional roles for auction houses and art galleries, to name just a few.

In the six years since Mary Rozell, global head of the UBS Art Collection, published the first edition of The Art Collector’s Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Acquiring and Owning Art (2014), the art world, for all its insularity and status quo–driven tendencies, has changed.

The shifts that have taken place in less than a decade are diverse and impactful, including the normalization of art as a financial investment, the global proliferation of private museums, and the blurring of traditional roles for auction houses and art galleries, to name just a few.

Rozell, a New York–based art lawyer and art historian, is releasing a revised edition of The Art Collector’s Handbook on October 5th in an effort to capture these changes. The forthcoming edition will include updates across every section and an entirely new chapter.

Accepting art as an investment

Mindy Shapero, Night Pieces, The lost unseeing eye, 2013–18. © Mindy Shapero. Courtesy of the UBS Art Collection.

Mindy Shapero, Night Pieces, The lost unseeing eye, 2013–18. © Mindy Shapero. Courtesy of the UBS Art Collection.

Fred Eversley, Untitled (parabolic lens), (1969) 2018. © Fred Eversley. Photo by Jeff McLane. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery and the UBS Art Collection.

Fred Eversley, Untitled (parabolic lens), (1969) 2018. © Fred Eversley. Photo by Jeff McLane. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery and the UBS Art Collection.

Speaking to Artsy over the phone about what she considers to be one of the more notable shifts, Rozell said, “Ten years ago when people were talking about artists and investments, a lot of people were upset about it. Every art fair had a lot of panels and this was the number-one topic. There was a lot of pushback, but now it has become accepted and institutionalized that art investing takes place. There are more forms and vehicles to invest in art, with all the same caveats, but it’s become more of the norm.”

An aspect of the financialization of the art market which Rozell finds intriguing is the controversial third-party auction guarantees that typically ensure a work is pre-sold at a minimum amount, backed by an auction house (known as house guarantee) or a third-party guarantor who receives some money should the work sell for more.

“After the crash of 2008, third-party auction guarantees all but disappeared, and now they are very much back supporting the art market, up to 40% in 2017 with 90% coming from outside third parties who saw potential investment,” Rozell said. “Auction houses do approach collectors and invite them to be third-party guarantors, so that has proven to be a means to offer sellers a degree of comfort and buyers investing in potential opportunities.”

Art industry roles become blurry

Mary Rozell in conversation with Ed Ruscha at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Photo by David Parry. Courtesy of UBS Art Collection.