A Post-Pandemic World of Art: What’s changed? Gaurav Bhatia explains

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s former MD, explains that the middleman is eliminated in the online business of selling Art as it eliminates the third party. Direct sales by living artists are also possible.

Gaurav Bhatia

As no sector, business, or industry was untouched from COVID 19, the world was caught in the turmoil. It was too late for global markets to prepare for the upcoming thrashing, because Covid-19 onset was completely unpredictable.

37% of sales in 2019 were made through auction rooms, but they had to temporarily shut down in March 2020. The opportunity to buy or sell art in person was barely there and art fairs with sales of approximately USD 16.6 billion in 2019 were also canceled. 

It was imperative to move everything online. However, the transition from the analog world to the digital world was challenging and presented many challenges.

The big auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips and their Indian counterparts, while already in online sales, didn’t realize that only-only sales would be the way forward. 

Former Managing Director of Sotheby’s India and ex-LVMH Gaurav Bhatia says that adapting to the current situation is the only option.

“We can’t kill the virus overnight, but we can always adapt and prepare ourselves.” His motto is to go with the flow.

It is commendable to seize opportunities despite adversity. As with Sotheby’s live-streamed sales and online auctions, Huge League players also attracted new buyers who had never been to an auction house before. Based on the data, almost 40% of buyers are new, and 30% are under 40 years old.

While the pandemic is devastating, it still has some positive effects on various sectors, such as the art market.

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s former MD, explains that the middleman is eliminated in the online business as it eliminates the third party. Direct sales by living artists are also possible.

Further, he explained the benefits of online platforms. Social media platforms have enabled virtual art fairs, and geographical barriers have also been removed. Audience reach and diversity have both increased.

In 2000, the Indian art market was worth around Rs. 200 crores. By 2020, it is expected to be worth Rs. 1700 crores. According to current projections, it will reach Rs.16000 crores/year by 2040. A passionate and zealous art lover, CEO Maison, Gaurav Bhatia believes that the best art comes from adversity. In the past, people struggled and suffered, and those experiences inspired most of the world’s great artists.

The art world has more or less adapted to survive a pandemic after a year. Despite the heavy blows of lockdowns, travel bans, and social distancing, the art market is still active. There are many losses, but it is surviving the pandemic’s current. 

There was a 22% drop in overall art sales worldwide in 2020, and art fairs had to close as well. In the past few years, many auction houses and fairs have been forced to close. Some artists are living on handouts because their works were mostly sold after in-person inspections.

The major auction houses led by Sotheby’s and Christie’s were already transitioning to expand their business online, the pandemic simply provided a jump start and it became relatively easy to continue the business.

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex-Managing Director wants people to keep their spirits up by putting in enough effort and resources to survive the pandemic.

“When you’re at home, art is a huge comfort. You can live with it and enjoy your art. It brings natural therapy.”  

The shift to the digital world has also led to many millennials entering the art market. Prior to the pandemic there weren’t many young collectors on the internet, however the surge of new collectors in online auction rooms has helped the artists sustain themselves and stay in the business.

Also read – PharmAid MD Sanjeev Nanda lists future-forward trends that are transforming the healthcare sector.

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