The Great Wealth Transfer - implications for art and beyond


The much discussed Great Wealth Transfer between Baby Boomers and their Gen X and younger children and grandchildren is gathering pace, not least in the rarefied environs of the international art market.

As the article below highlights, tastes in art, as in everything, differ between generations. Given the market for 20th Century artists, owners may be thinking of selling their collections before interest and prices drop, as happened a few years ago in the Old Masters market. Their Millennial and Gen Z children and even grandchildren, are currently showing interest in video art and NFTs, although these trends may not be here for long, given society's current pace of change, especially where new forms of technology are involved.

However, while selling may be a good idea for some art owners, it may not always be the answer. Rather than being guided by market trends, if parents discuss their plans with their children, some may find that they would like to inherit their collections, even if by the time they do, these may no longer be fashionable and may even have dropped in value. Their interest may be in maintaining a collection for posterity, or they may just love the pieces. Whatever the reason, and even if such conversations make clear that their children's interests lie somewhere else entirely, it is vitally important that parents and children communicate their thoughts and their wishes.

Of course, the need for such communication is not just restricted to art. Parents need to know which, if any, of their children would like to continue a family business, and which are qualified to do so. They need to understand what their children's plans and interests are, and their children need to see that they are valued by their parents. This is particularly important for those children who do not wish to stay within the family business or whose tastes and interests, and even cultural values, may be very different from those of others in the family.

What we see as advisers to large, often internationally wealthy families, is that beginning open communication may be difficult, but once everyone starts to understand each other, the likelihood of disputes between different members of the family, especially following the deaths of parents, significantly reduces.  

So, before you rush to sell your art or other collection, you may wish to use that as a way to start a much wider conversation with your family which may ultimately lead everyone to a better understanding of each others' plans and hopes for the future.


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The so-called “Great Wealth Transfer” from the baby boomer generation is increasingly visible on the art market, but will there always be demand to match their post-war taste?
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