And, of course, that’s just one of two macroeconomic factors currently working against fairs with numerous international participants—but mostly regional collectors—like Art Cologne. With the euro worth around 30 cents on the dollar less than it was at this time last year, works priced in dollars are effectively 27% more expensive this year for a European collector (assuming they don’t have some greenbacks stashed away somewhere). The state of play should have the NetJets hotline ringing off the hook for flights to Basel from the U.S. coasts—those collectors would have been smart to make a similar call and come to Cologne this past week. For the galleries, however, it’s reintroduced a level of uncertainty (and need for some creative forex trading and knowhow) that was out of the picture for the past 10 years.
Under these circumstances, the fact that Art Cologne was able to achieve the results it did is all the more impressive. It also suggests that the art market here is far more stable and able to react to changing conditions than those who have recently been calling for the “bubble” to burst have suggested. With the fair’s 50th edition on the horizon for next year, it has reached a new level of stability in its place atop the German art market and one that looks unable to be challenged for many more editions to come.