Investing in Art

by SMD 

Art as an InvestmentOne of the [many] pseudo careers I’ve had is that of an artist. Now that I am into investing and business, I’ve been thinking about art as an investment. It seems to be a nice combination of buying a useful tangible asset and high potential returns.

The booming art market: it has been one of the year’s [2004] sensations, at once both a cultural and financial phenomenon. A new generation of buyers has come into the market, driving up prices for modern and contemporary artwork while making headlines in the process. Accompanying the excitement and record prices is the burgeoning idea of art as a form of investment.

Lots more on the booming market here. It’s important to remember that investing in art is as much an investment in the artist as the piece of art. Five years after art school very few [~5%] of art students are still making art. Most people who create art, even some that are quite good, are not artists at heart, they are lost in a myth of an artist. So if your dealing with living artists, choose your artists wisely.

There are artists, who will create as a rebellion, to make a statement against society. These are your high risk investments. These are the future Van Gogh’s but your odds are a million to one. I’d look for an artist that has a little business sense, who approaches the process like a career and realizes all the areas of the profession that they will need to master to succeed. Someone with a little flare for public attention too.

Also, of course, you’d better develop a visual eye for it, or find someone to trust. I like the idea of buy art that you would buy anyways, that matches the couch so to speak, but also has a potential for appreciation. What could be better than a home full of awesome visual statements that are also handsomely outperforming the S&P and the local real estate market? More here: 9 basic rules for investing in art.

Update: An interesting tax angle on art investing:

The 1995 Tax Act allows you to donate to any IRS-approved charity works of art at their fair market value, not at their cost basis. Moreover, people can deduct the charitable gift’s fair market value on their tax return without being subject to the dreaded alternative minimum tax.

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