The Ministry of Culture conducted a survey with a view to analysing the typical profile of a French contemporary art collector and found that such individuals were generally more academically qualified than average, over fifty years of age and living in the Ile-de-France region or another major city. Nearly half of those surveyed made their first purchase at between twenty and thirty years of age, when they treated themselves to a painting.
The family environment is a key factor in kindling this calling, with only a third of regular buyers devoting the majority of their free time to the cause. A third have just a small collection, comprising fewer than 50 pieces, with budgets varying from less than €5,000 a year for 30% of buyers to over €50,000 a year for 16%. For three-quarters of enthusiasts, this accounts for at least one month’s income. One buyer in ten has already purchased a work valued at over €100,000, with new purchases primarily comprising pieces by artists living in France.
Collectors are engaged and their actions can be focused on certain artists, galleries, museums or art centres. By opening up their network they are expanding the potential market for the artists concerned, thus adding to their artistic legitimacy, and even, in some cases, playing a managerial role. 60% of French collectors belong to a friends’ society, with 14% sitting on the Board of Directors or a buying commission, whilst 8% make donations or loan pieces out. The majority of buyers still source their pieces and obtain their training from galleries, with some collectors even going into partnership with such galleries.