Now head of his own art consultancy, the London-based American observed that attendance at this year’s contemporary art fair proved Hong Kong was now firmly on the map of the art world’s jet set – representatives from a record 78 international art institutions attended the fair, according to Art Basel. But Murphy is also watching keenly watching an emerging market on the other side of the Pacific ocean.
“The next big boom is going to be the west coast USA. The trajectory of what’s happened here in Asia shows that the market potential has always been here. It just took enterprises to see Asia as a coherent, integrated part of their businesses. The same will happen on the west coast,” he says.
San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle are hardly “emerging” in the usual sense of the word, but they have often been perceived as culturally impecunious compared with cities on the US east coast. But that has gradually changed as more institutions – such as The Broad in Los Angeles and the reopened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – enrich the visual arts landscape and more art sellers have opened offices there.
On the auctions side, for example, Sotheby’s last year hired the Los Angeles director of Gagosian Gallery to boost its west coast auctions business, and Christie’s is opening its Beverly Hills office on April 20 shortly after closing its South Kensington branch in London.
“The person in charge of California lived in New York when I was at Christie’s,” says Murphy. The art market’s growth in Asia has taught businesses they have to commit to a permanent presence in a new market if they are to succeed. “It is my hope that the next major art fair will be in Los Angeles to close the circle for global art collectors,” he adds.
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