Crafty investments are ‘safer than the banks’

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By Michael MacLeod

ART lovers have laughed off the credit crunch blues by spending millions in one weekend.

An east versus west battle of the art events saw the organisers of Edinburgh’s annual Art Fair racing home with more cash this weekend than ever before.

But Glasgow auctioneers McTear’s only sold 25 per-cent of the work they had on sale, most of which went at knock-down prices.

They blamed the credit crunch hitting art lovers’ pockets, but their Edinburgh counterparts said it HELPED them make around £2 million.

A plethora of artworks including paintings, sculpture, ceramics and glassware from £100 to £50,000 were among those snapped up at the Edinburgh Art Fair the weekend.

Organiser Andrew Naysmith said: “We were genuinely concerned that the economy was going to have a negative impact and that we would be down on the £1.5 million the fair generated last year.

“If the galleries hadn’t come because they feared people weren’t going to spend, then there simply would not have even been an art fair.

“But I’m delighted to say it’s been an overwhelming success.

“People see art as a far more sound and rewarding investment than a bank fund.”

Edinburgh’s contrast with the picture in Glasgow at the weekend was stark enough to leave even Peter Howson shaking in his boots.

Hundreds of paintings worth over £1.5 million were on sale at knock down prices at the country’s largest ever auction of contemporary art.

But three quarters of the 450 works on sale at McTear’s failed to attract new homes.

Director Brian Clements said: “Had we held this just two months earlier I think we would have seen quite a few more paintings sell.

“But the financial situation means that in the past few weeks the market has plummeted.

“Everything is affected by the credit crunch – I mean all you have to do is look at the pre- Christmas sales to get the picture.”

While Clements blamed the credit crunch for the auction’s failure, Edinburgh Art Fair’s organiser embraced it.

He said people were buying art to distract from the “doom and gloom of everyday life.”

He added: “We seemed to have bucked the trend of the weekend the Glasgow auction had.

“I think people need a bit of colour in their lives and that’s exactly why we’ve had a super weekend for sales.

“I’ve found it fascinating looking at what people are walking out the door with – most of it is brightly coloured work.

“You could say they want to take their minds off the credit crunch and the doom and gloom of every day life.

“It’s nice to have something positive to say about sales, and I’m delighted for the galleries and exhibiters who were selling through us as much as I am for the people whose walls and lives are now all the more brighter.”

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