Europe needs swagger

Fallout of Panama Papers felt in art market: Dealer

Jessica Hartogs; special to
Panama Papers won’t help art market: Art dealer

The fallout from the Panama Papers scandal will not help the art auction market as some buyers try to avoid having their investment scrutinized, Jean David Malat, art dealer and director of the London Opera Gallery, told CNBC.

Therefore, private collectors would rather buy from a gallery, where their investments can be more discreet, he explained.

Although owning art has always been an attractive investment, the art market has seen mixed fortunes in the last year – with global sales falling 7 percent to $68.2bn, according to the European Fine Art Foundation.

However, art sales in the $1 million-plus market have grown 400 percent in value in the past decade.

Malat said that 2015 was still "a very good year for us internationally." The Opera Gallery, which counts 12 locations worldwide including London, Paris, Dubai, and Miami, among others, also recently opened galleries in New York and Aspen.

Selections from the wine cellar of William I. Koch.
William Koch's wine collection headed to auction

There is an increasing demand in masterpieces, Malat told CNBC. The gallery sells works by renowned artists such as Georges Bracques, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Joan Miro – as well as Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali.

"There is no price for a painting," said Malat. "If there are two collectors that bid for the same painting, it can go for millions and millions."

Malat has witnessed a decrease in one of the hottest buyers' markets, however. "Asia has been a bit down for us," he said. "But we're dealing with museums."

China is opening a lot of museums, as is South Korea, explained Malat, and they need the works to fill them. Opera Gallery has locations in both Hong Kong and Seoul.

When it comes to picking the right piece of art, Malat suggests "going with your own feelings," and that young, upcoming contemporary artists in the $10 million-$50 million range are a worthy investment.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

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