Arty Lab : Where do you work right now ? Please tell us your typical your typical day in this work ?
Marie-Alix Thomas : I currently work at Ateo Finance as Business Analyst after having spent a semester in Boston University. Ateo Finance is originally a firm that develop softwares for middle and back-office in banks. The CEO, Laurent Courbin, is an art-lover and realized two years ago the need of the art market in terms of unbiased sales and price indexes. He gathered a team to work on a FinTech project that aims to provide objective verified trends and to track volatility of the market through a set of value over time that show which way the market is trending.
This project would not be the same without a committee of experts that are to provide their mastery in evaluating/analysing transactions of art pieces considering the market they are evolving in. I am to be a business analyst in the company, acting as an intermediary between those experts (their understanding and experience of the art market) and the project team of Ateo (their statistics and economical points of view).
Arty Lab : What is the issue of the art market information nowadays ?
Marie-Alix Thomas : To me, the main issue of the art market nowadays is the extrapolation of data from the secondary market by specialized structures to write art market reports. Yet this data only represents a part of the overall art market and the reports are a fortiori not relevant enough for the market newcomers, that can be thus misled on this information market. As Richard Bradley and Nigel Glenday (Athena Art Finance) explain it, “as the art market has grown in terms of collector interest, activity and valuation, many collectors are increasingly looking at their collections not just as passions, but as investments”. That said, these collectors are in an increasing demand of financial tools and advice to manage their collection(s) properly. Indexes, reports, valuations are to be impeccable if the once so-called opaque market wants to pursue its healthy and long-term growth. A certain form of transparency is coming thanks to NICTs and blockchain that allow increasing visibility and accessibility of the artworks to a larger public. The art market has to strengthen itself and operate transformations if it wants to stay as interesting as it is now.
Arty Lab : Among your professional experiences, what is the one that you liked the most ?
Marie-Alix Thomas : As I studied in Nantes and Boston, I had the chance to constantly meet professionals and to interact with them, through lectures, forums, company visits, seminars and internships.
As I wanted to work in the cultural sector, I had to understand the way the structures that rule the market, both public and private, work. I spent a month in 2015 in Saint Petersburg, working for the State Hermitage Museum as a volunteer in communication. It was a fantastic adventure!
But back in France, the business aspect of the art market attracted me, and I spent a year working in auctions houses. First at Ader Nordmann at Drouot (Paris 9e, France) and then Christie’s (Paris, 8e, France) in the European Furniture department. Working in these two auctions houses was, for me, the best experiences I had on the art market.
Even though I had the opportunity to learn considerably as a project manager in a gallery in Brussels and as an expert assistant at the 30th edition of TEFAF in 2017, my experience in auction houses was the one I liked the most. The atmosphere of the saleroom, the discovery of masterpieces, the transactions establishment strategy were aspects that thrilled me over a year of work.
Arty Lab : In your point of view, what will be the changes in the art market for the next generation ?
Marie-Alix Thomas: The next generation seems to have a different relationship to art compared to the previous Rockefellers and Rothschilds. A great majority are still passionate art collectors. However, passionate does not mean that they buy without consideration for the money they spend in the arts. Some of them already consider art as an asset class and an alternative investment. Art is aesthetic, social and financial at the same time. They are buying art in artists’ studio, galleries, art fairs and finally in auction houses: the customer experience is a huge part of the purchase process for the new generation.
The number of art collectors is globally growing more than ever, due, among others, to new visibility and distribution channels. Collectors have a greater accessibility to art whether via social networks, and overall the Internet. They buy online (even if it is usually not major pieces costing more that 5000€/piece) around the world ; they discover artists and exhibitions thanks to Instagram and Facebook ; they debate in lectures and panel discussion about the blockchain’s role in the art market with curators and market insiders from India, China, the UK, the US and South Africa at the same time.
New collectors also show a great commitment to artists and their work. Young art professionnals create clubs (such as the CLAC - Club d’Art Contemporain), they gather in groups of museums’ friends or young donors, and/or collectors (such as the “Collectif Lumière” founded by Sébastien Peyret in Marseille) to learn new practices, new trends, new ways to promote creation and art education. They are more open to innovation and new forms of creation; and they are ready to engage in what they are passionate about. They are enthusiastic and ready to change their environment for the best.
Thank you Marie-Alix !