Take into consideration all the different reports coming out this time of year, and the picture of market is very fragmented.

The expensive is becoming increasingly more so, whilst prices at the lower end of the market continue to decrease. How can this be, and how can the pattern change?

That is the question most people in the art and auction industry are pondering today.

It escaped no one, that 2015 included several of the most expensive sales ever, both at auction and trade. At the same time, an increasing number of antique dealers and auction houses were in the red, fighting for survival.

When Dr. Clare McAndrew was on stage at TEFAF, Maastricht, to report The TEFAF Art Market Report, 2015, she confirms that the curve for the sale of art over $10 million goes straight up, with an increase of 19% in comparison to last year. While the overall market decreased by 7% when compared to 2014. Which in turn means that the pricing of a large percentage of art, design and antiques in the lower segment continues to fall.

Bubble burst?

Simultaneously, we must remember that the total market increased from approximately 20 billion in 2003 to about 64 billion dollars in 2015. An impressive figure attributed to globalization, digitalisation and the monetary power of the new economies.

Quite naturally, it has been suggested that there is a new art bubble.

The art market collapsed with full force in 2008. The hardest hit was the US market, while the overall market was partially rescued by the Chinese super dragon's huge appetite for Warhol and Picasso.

Both myself and Clare McAndrew agree that there are incentives to suggest that a possible bubble will stick. At least for some time.

Cautious banks and long-term buyers

In addition, as many speculators from different parts of the globe seem to agree, in recent years the price rise felt by the market seems to be more stable. As banks have been much more cautious about lending money to buy art.

But of course a lot is changing rapidly, and sooner or later, this will change again.

Museums and collectors demand increases

A tremendous rate of growth of new museums around the world has fueled an increase in the price of unique and high-quality objects.

During the past fifteen years, more museums have opened in the world than during the 18-1900's. In China last year, a new museum every day! Competition for filling museums and private collections with the most high-quality objects, makes it easy to understand the scramble and price increases.

At the same time, it will be a challenge to keep up the past decade's exceptional increases in the value of the total market because of the limited availability of the most interesting objects.

Growth potential in the lower segments

For several years, various reports pointed out a problem around the world's financial resources. The richest have become more and more so, and above all , richer, whilst widespread middle class with impaired assets have had a negative impact on the art market.

In recent years the focus has centered on increasing the audience for the "best", which is also indicated by this year's figures. While there is tremendous potential in the lower segments, provided you manage to attract the broad middle class into art buying in the US.

New economies' growing middle classes must be taken into consideration. How this should be done has not been reported so far, not to my knowledge. But we will for sure see more of that next year.

Everyone wants "new" ...

Modern and contemporary painting and sculpture has increased the most in recent years undoubtedly so, and now accounts for 76% of the total market for so-called "Fine Art".

"Old Masters" paintings are one of the few categories that have consistently fallen over the past ten years. It is also noteworthy that America and especially New York is the big motor, without competition, to the modern art growth, while the UK still has its grip on the market for so-called "Old Masters" (which in this context represents a very small market share = 9 %).

... And all want the same

The US is responsible for 47% of the total value of the 2015 sales of "Post War & Contemporary Art". 20 artists represent 45% of the value, whilst Old works accounts for 14% of the total value.

When it comes to modern art, the US market, which is very centered around New York, accounts for 45% of the total value, and the twenty highest paid artists stands for an incredible 59% (!) of the total value, where the twenty most expensive artists turnover 24% of the total.

McAndrews' report also says that 61% of the total value spent on works of art that cost over $ 1 million, accounts for only 1% of the total volume.

Online is the way to get ahead

When it comes to the digital transition of the art market, much has happened, and in 2015, online sales of art in the world accounts for $4.7 billion. Which in turn means that the online markets sales grew by 7%.

It is arguably the large volume auctions which best fit selling purely through online auctions, while the most expensive items still require a more physical presence of both the art and the buyers. Barnebys, offers the possibility to find a variety of both online auctions and auctions in the sale room, a perfect solution to find exactly what you are looking for. And sometimes, find what you weren't looking for, something exciting and unexpected.

The market is fairly prosperous, after all. While it's the largest drop in some sectors, it is the second highest sales figure ever.

Ultimately, it's about how you choose to look at it.