The mood in the Hamptons has been affected by real estate prices, plunging bonuses and – of course – the ongoing art market slump. But, the collectors gathering at ArtHamptons are trying to keep stiff upper lips. Rick Friedman, its founder and executive director, is saying that now is the best time to enter the art market, with low prices building in an inherently greater upside. And, there's no doubt. If you have the cash to put into the art market – and the inclination to invest in this asset class – now is the time to do it.
The major constraint on the art market isn't the notion that it's a bad time to invest. Any fairly serious art collector can see that this is the time to make a move. Like any other "discount," you can't take advantage of it if you don't have the price of admission. You might be able to pick up the Old Masters for a relative song right now, but if your bonus got slashed this year, the opportunity may not be possible.
So, what's moving at ArtHamptons this year?
Jane Wilson, who one a Lifetime Achievement Award this year, has seen some success, along with Elliott Erwitt, Lillion Bassman and other artists who lean toward decorative pieces. For some, the year's even been positive, with gallery director Joseph Newman calling the first quarter of this year the best he's had. Trompe l'oeil is working well, too. Interested in buying a Madoff joke for $13,500? You can do it with Eric Forstmann's Made Off with the Bail Out Package.
Meanwhile, soft porn is moving ... so, at least someone is making money on the skin business (the hardcore guys sure aren't). Suggestive images have always packed a bit of a thrill, and pieces that ply the flesh are doing well out in the Hamptons this year. Boyarde Messenger's Frilly in Yellow ($3,350) and Changing Rooms III moved for almost three times that amount.
The feel is somewhat upbeat at ArtHamptons this year, but the action is definitely taking place in the emerging artist space. Nonetheless, there are some big ticket items up for sale. At Vered Gallery's booth, you'll find a Picasso, Chagall, de Kooning and Rauschenberg – not to mention a 1984 portrait of Michael Jackson by Andy Warhol. If you're liquid, now's the time to enter the market!