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Through Art Market & You, Art From Us provides you Analysis, Opinion and Factual Reports regarding the current on-goings of the Global Art Market. In this article, we explore the concept of Art Flipping.

What is Art Flipping?

Art flipping refers to the trend where a collector buys an artwork with the motive to quickly resell the same work at a profit. 

The motive behind flipping are could be many. By investing in a blue chip artist, an art flipper may weigh the odds in her favour. This ensures she profits from subsequent sale. Further, profit made on such sales may be invested into works the collector wanted, but lacked the funds to purchase. The lack of transparency in the art market is a contributing factor to this phenomenon.

Being flipped on the market can impact the market of the artwork, as well as its artist in a multitude of ways. If an artwork is sold too often, serious collectors typically shy away from buying it. The general belief is that the artwork is in some way ‘tainted’ or ‘burned’ and is therefore undesirable. On the contrary, sometimes flipping results in a sharp rise the work’s price, thus falsely inflating the artist’s market. Such ‘growth’ in the artist’s market may not however be sustainable, and may damage the artist’s reputation in the long run. This is especially true in the case of emerging and young artists.

Impact of Flipping

Art flipping also negatively impacts dealers. Galleries must bear the brunt of unnatural price fluctuations as consequence of flipping. Thus, even galleries prefer not to be associated with collectors who tend to flip art.

Some well known examples of art flipping in recent times are Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Warrior”. This work was sold thrice in a span of about 6 years, with a 450% increase. Moreover, Stefan Simchowitz has been blacklisted by several galleries for engaging in flipping.

The lack of transparency in the art world is conducive to the practice of art flipping. Even though the trend is not, strictly speaking, illegal, it is frowned upon in the market. Further to being unethical, flipping art strips away the object’s cultural value and significance, reducing it to a mere ‘commodity’. 

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