According to statistics from auction house Sotheby’s over the past five years, Vietnamese paintings have flourished with record sales. At two auction houses Christie’s in the UK and Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, sales of Vietnamese paintings amount to around $43 million.
During the modern and contemporary art auction of modern and contemporary art organized by Sotheby’s in Singapore at the end of August, the painting Vietnamese Lady by the painter Le Pho was bought by a Vietnamese collector at 781,200 SGD (more than 13 billion of VND). Previously, in November 2017, this painting was also exhibited at Christie’s auction with a hammer price of 725,000 HKD (2.16 billion VND).
This example is given to show that the commercial value of Vietnamese paintings in the international market has increased significantly over the past five years. Added to this is the echo of the ‘Ancient Souls of Strange Lands’ exhibition organized by Sotheby’s for the first time in Vietnam in July, making collectors aware that the Vietnamese painting market is constantly growing.
The interpretation of the art collection as a channel for investment diversification in the hope of being a safe haven, as the value of works of art often increases over time. A collection of paintings is considered appropriate for segments ranging from home decoration and spiritual values to an investment haven. The art market, in particular the collection of paintings, results from the simultaneous convergence of three main forces.
The report of Art Basel-UBS, an international art fair held and held annually in Basel (Switzerland) and Hong Kong (China) on the global art market surprised people by announcing that people from 23 to 35 year olds had bought more artistic paintings than previous generations.
Because the art market in Vietnam is still in its infancy, similar reliable statistics are not yet available. However, young people are believed to be interested in fine art and painting collection as they participate in more and more painting exhibitions. According to painting collector Hoang Anh Tuan, the incomes of young people have improved and they have a relatively higher level of education than those of the previous generation.
Second, said Tuan, young people created a wave of art on tech platforms, especially social networks like Instagram and Facebook which made art more accessible. Third, the Covid-19 outbreak has fostered digital transformation in many aspects of social life, including the art market. Artists and exhibitors have adapted by developing in-person and online exhibitions; therefore, they exhibited paintings to more art lovers. Among them are many people who, for various reasons, could not attend live exhibitions, but can now see paintings on the Internet.
Collector Hoang Anh Tuan added that Vietnam lacks a secondary art market such as auction houses, art fairs, annual exhibitions or actual exhibitors. Consequently, both reliable price references and transparent financial quantification are lacking. It is possible to collect based on personal feelings or aesthetics, but investing requires different skills such as knowledge of due diligence, understanding and investigating all angles of the transaction.
It is a big challenge to predict which artistic trends will be valuable, especially for newcomers to the art market. This explains why the price of paintings keeps breaking millions of dollars, but it is not easy to make a profit in this market.