After 18 Years of Number-Crunching, TEFAF Has Discontinued Its Signature Art Market Report

The art fair will no longer attempt to quantify the value of the global art market.

TEFAF Art Market Report 2017. Photo: courtesy of TEFAF.

The TEFAF Art Market Report, long regarded as the benchmark-setting resource for art market data, is no more.

After 18 years, the Dutch art fair organizer has announced that it will discontinue its annual report, which sought to quantify the exact value of the global art market. In its place, TEFAF will publish a series of analytical reports that delve more deeply into particular subjects.

“We reached the conclusion that having led the field in producing high-quality market-wide reports for over a decade, we would better serve our dealer population and the wider art community by producing very in-depth and focused reports that concentrate on a variety of subjects in the art market,” a representative for TEFAF said in a statement to artnet News.

According to the Financial Times, which first had news of the report’s demise, the debut subject-specific analysis will focus on the art-financing industry. It will be written by Anders Petterson of the London-based art analytics firm ArtTactic and published in May to coincide with the TEFAF Spring fair in New York.

TEFAF’s decision to scrap its traditional report has far-reaching implications for the opaque art industry, where comprehensive analyses that combine gallery sales and auction data are few and far between.

The move also follows a major shift in the art-market analytics landscape. In 2016, the longtime author of the TEFAF report, the economist Clare McAndrew, was recruited to join rival art fair franchise Art Basel. She was replaced at TEFAF by Rachel Pownall, a professor of finance at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics.

But the discrepancies between the competing reports demonstrated the challenge of quantifying the hazy art market—and caused some to complain that the researchers’ data-gathering methods were unclear and potentially unreliable.

As a result of their different methodologies, Pownall estimated the overall value of the art market in 2015 was $44 billion, while McAndrew calculated it at $63.8 billion. The following year, Pownall estimated the total at $45 billion and McAndrew had it at $56.6 billion.

According to the Antiques Trade Gazette, Pownall and Maastricht University plan to continue publishing art market data with a new partner to be announced later this year. Until then, however, the art market must once again rely on just one widely published report.

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