And as VVIPs entered Art Basel on Tuesday morning, Germany’s became the latest among a number of European central banks (including that of Switzerland) to take interest rates on certain assets negative. The countries, seen as safe havens for capital by skittish investors, are essentially being paid to hold onto those investors’ money and are encouraging spending to combat lackluster growth, as well as levels of inflation that are considered unhealthy in the marketplace. The Fed and the Bank of Japan also voted to keep rates low this week, moves which in their sum have led other investors to ask what fiscal levers would be left to pull should the global economy crack.
The art market is, of course, not immune
to jitters about Brexit, the U.S. presidential election, and the state of the economy. “It’s clear that political and economic situations do have an impact on the art market,” said Patricia C. Amberg, the executive director and head of UBS’s Art Competence Center. “When we look around the globe, there are quite a lot of crises and wars. It affects the art market, but it affects some areas more than others. There is still a demand for pieces of very high quality. But collectors are maybe not as spontaneous as they were five years ago. They are observing more; they know they have to compare prices.”