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Art as an Investment

Now we don’t mean the kind of investment you make for yourself like when you splurge on this Chanel or Gucci flats, we’re talking long-term, money-back-for-your-efforts kind of investment. Where you might usually pair the word investment with shares or property, have you ever thought about investing in art? It’s a luxurious idea but who doesn’t love a bit of glitz?

With the cash rate at an all-time low and property values falling, many investors are now turning to art (paintings, sculpture, ceramics and prints, along with collectibles such as coins, stamps, antiques and furniture) as an alternative investment. 

As with all investments there’s a few things to think about before diving in, and research is probably the most vital part.

‘Looking at the Day Move around Two Trees’ (Olley’s Horizon) (2018) By Karen Stephens

So, let’s hit the books: 

  1. Always make sure you know that you’re purchasing an authentic, original piece of artwork. If the selling history reads more like a rap sheet ten pages long, you’ll want to know how it’s been stored, what kind of ownership it was in (private home, gallery, studio etc) and if it really is the genuine item.

  2. Selling history is important too to see the price trajectory of the piece - is it going up, or down and how quickly? How popular and in-demand is this work or artist? 

  3. Get to know your local market. What’s around and who’s buying what, and why? Watch out for prize-winning pieces at art fairs and shows. Sign up to an online pricing database for the know-how in art market research. And subscribe subscribe subscribe to different art news e-zines and journals.

  4. Get familiar with the lingo and what’s trending in the industry. Be mindful with what is trending though - it’s important to forecast as best as you can (by reading and consulting) whether the piece will maintain a timeless quality or not. Learn how to conserve and store your art to maintain a work’s longevity.

Know your niche:

What’s your vibe? Eclectic or thematic? Tap into a vibe and think of yourself as an art buyer for the likes of say Meghan Markle, and find a niche, an audience, or style.  Think of it like curating your own gallery, as the pieces need to have a certain kind of appeal.

What story are you drawn to behind the work - geographic, period pieces, diasporas, utopian, dystopian? While purchasing art for investment is more of a head over heart matter, you don’t want to invest in something you don’t enjoy. If you keep a work for generations to come, you’ll want it to have a story that you can pass on and share, and when it does come to selling it will be more than a canvas or some clay - it will be an emotion. After all, art is passion. 

What forms of art will you invest in? Sculpture, glass, oils, watercolour, the list goes on. 

What market will you buy into - high-end or indie, with styles that are reminiscent of works that revolutionised the art world or a new wave movement? 

Final tips:

  • Size matters. Make sure you purchase conveniently-sized pieces - if an artwork is too cumbersome or difficult to display, it could be less likely to sell. 

  • Buying emerging artists priced in the $2000 - $10,000 range allows new investors to dip their toes into the market and can be high reward if you choose the right work.

  • Investing in art provides more of a buffer against factors that immediately effect other investments like stocks.  

  • Investment = future. Make sure you are buying pieces with a timeless, yet unique, rare quality. 

  • Looking ahead, contemporary art is the sector that will drive returns.

  • Did you know that your Self Managed Super Fund's can purchase art as an investment? Although there are rules around where you can display your investment. 

  • Buy what you love! If you love it, then most likely someone else will love it too. 


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