At present, I would have a handful of clients wondering whether now is a good time to sell?

The question is not an uncommon one, most pronounced after a significant and impactful event on either a national or international scale or, simply, with reference to a period in the calendar. Prior to this global pandemic, I recall the question came up often after the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009 and still regularly presents as an “is December too late to sell?” or, “is January too early to sell?” question. The calendar query persists and will be one of those questions that I imagine an auctioneer will hear, and answer, forever. However, the event question has taken on a whole new meaning since the emergence of COVID-19. In March and April of last year, when I was asked this question, I simply couldn’t answer it and sympathetically watched several collections, destined for auction, fade back in to the arms of collectors who were simply (and rightly so) too nervous to sell.

CLEMENT MEADMORE (1929-2005)
Meditation 1974

Fast forward a year, and I almost have to pinch myself when I reflect on what I am now advising clients and that is that now, in my opinion, is probably the best time to sell since the period prior to the stock market crash of October 1987 and arguably the best time to sell in perhaps a century. And what have we observed at Leonard Joel to support this claim? Well, two profound things really. To begin with, and like so many auction houses globally, we have witnessed the dramatic (and comfortable) shift of existing buyers, (and more of them than ever before) online.

Prompted by lockdowns when the only means of acquisition was via the internet and contactless delivery services, existing collectors and new buyers alike have moved online with a momentum that is as strong in numbers as it is in willingness to bid and buy. Then add to this the virtual elimination of international leisure travel (read this as the profound reversal in “experience-spending”) and we have, in many ways, domestically clad consumer spending, I would guess, unparalleled since before the advent of affordable, large-scale international travel.

Consumption has shifted, from the rise and rise of experience spending, well and truly back to the tangible. From my view point we are once again buying “things” like never before and after 12 months of observation I am completely sold (pardon the pun) on the reality that consumption in our Economy of Beautiful Things and Interesting People (as I like to call our auction business) is being turbo-charged by frustrated Australians that cannot travel internationally. And what do prospective sellers have in this environment? An opportunity that will be remembered as being short-lived and golden.

JOHN ALBRECHT
Managing Director / National Head of Collections

May 2021