Investing in Art: Is it So Fine After All?

Owning a painting might be about satisfying your aesthetic taste. But what if it could boost your wallet too?

Maria Collinge
April 12, 2023
While being a collector requires a keen eye and an appreciation of beauty, it's important to consider how art can also lead to financial empowerment (Photo: Emediong/Unsplash)
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In recent times, the art market has emerged as a lucrative investment opportunity for collectors. It has become one of the hottest new investment crazes, offering stability that other traditional investments cannot. Not to mention its considerable growth potential.

While being a collector requires a keen eye and an appreciation of beauty, it's important to consider how art can also lead to financial empowerment - and you bet that with the advancement of technology, investing in art has never been easier. Say hello to the increasingly democratic art market, where endless opportunities are available for both established and emerging collectors.

So, whether you have a passion for art or a desire for investment returns, the art market is an excellent space to explore. That being said, there are significant risks to be aware of before diving head first into a Michaelangelo or Monet. So let's consider whether art investing can bring the financial empowerment you deserve, or whether it's no more than a hype that needs to be brushed over (no pun intended...).

(Image: Female Invest)

Is art a good investment?

Investing in fine art can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity for those interested in exploring the art world. Although it is a risky endeavour, it can also be a smart investment for some. It is important to keep in mind that not all art will appreciate in value, and therefore, investors should exercise caution when making purchases.

However, those who take the time to properly research and establish relationships with reputable galleries and auction houses can increase their chances of making a wise investment. Remember, rarity and originality tend to increase a piece's value, so be sure to acquire pieces of high quality. By understanding the risks involved and taking the necessary precautions, it is possible to thrive and succeed in the ever-evolving art market.

But before you dive into art investing, you should consider the following factors:

1. Art is a long-term investment

Investing in fine art can be a wise decision, but it requires patience and a long-term mindset. That's why experts advise investors to have a time window of at least 10 years before expecting to see any significant returns. However, the pay-off can be worth the wait, as fine art is not only valuable but also timeless. In fact, many art investors consider their paintings as assets to pass on to future generations, making it a part of their legacy.

Art is a tangible asset that provides a much-needed hedge against market volatility.

2. The art market doesn't follow the stock market

Do you have money invested in stocks and shares already? Are you finding them decrease over time as the market takes a tumble?

The beauty of investing in art is that its value remains unaffected by stock market fluctuations. This means that even if your stock investments are taking a downturn, your art investment could still be flourishing. With this assurance, investors can confidently add art to their portfolios, knowing that they are investing in a tangible asset that provides a much-needed hedge against market volatility.

3. Investing in art is risky

The world of fine art may seem intimidating to some, with its high price tags and exclusive galleries. But it's important to remember that every artwork is unique and reflects the artist's creativity and vision. Just like any other market, the fine art industry has its ups and downs, with prices fluctuating depending on various factors.

(Photo: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash)

However, this shouldn't deter you from taking the plunge and investing in a piece that speaks to you. While it may be impossible to determine an artwork's true value, don't be afraid to take some calculated risks and trust your instincts. After all, owning a beautiful piece of art that brings joy and inspiration is truly priceless.

4. Investing in art can help diversify your portfolio

Investing in art has become an exciting and accessible way to diversify your portfolio of assets. For too long, art investment and ownership have been reserved for a select few who understand the art world. However, today it is a mainstream strategy for expanding your portfolio through the acquisition of pieces that speak to your eye, mind, and assets.

Not only does art appreciate in value, but it is also an essential aspect of creating a visually appealing and lively space. With an art investment, you have the opportunity to blend your passion with a sound investment strategy.

What to know before investing in art

There are a number of things to consider before pouring your money into art. Here are the key ones to consider:

(Photo: Steph Wilson/Unsplash)

1. Consider art an added extra, not a necessity

While art can be a wonderful addition to any investment portfolio, it's important to remember that it should be thought of as an extra, not an essential. While it's possible to make a return from investing in art, it's highly unlikely that you'll get a huge payout from it alone. Think of it like a cherry on top of a sundae, rather than the sundae itself. Rather than relying on art for steady income, look to other investment opportunities to diversify your portfolio and secure a stable financial future.

2. Art is a illiquid asset

When investing in art, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a non-liquid or illiquid asset, meaning that it can be difficult to convert into cash quickly. While other investments like stocks and bonds are more easily sold, art can take time to find a buyer, even if it’s valuable.

Should I invest in art?

There are a number of things to consider whether investing in art is for you. Here are some areas to ponder on:

1. You like art

Don't let the perception that only serious art collectors can invest in art hold you back. If you have a passion for browsing galleries for beautiful pieces, why not turn that appreciation into an asset?

Even if you only want to invest in a couple of pieces, having an understanding of the art world — or partnering with an expert who does — is crucial to making strategic choices. Don't hesitate to explore the world of art investment, even if you're not a die-hard collector. With a little bit of knowledge and a lot of passion, you might just find your next profitable investment.

2. You're willing to do your research

Investing in art can be a great way to secure long-term value for your money. However, it’s important to approach it with the same level of informed decision-making as you would with stock market investments.

(Image: Female Invest)

Researching the artist of the piece you’re considering is a crucial first step. Look for clues that indicate their work is highly regarded, such as inclusion in notable museums or collections and recognition through awards. While it can be tempting to focus on up-and-coming artists, their reputations are highly uncertain and can heavily influence the value of their piece down the line. With careful research, you can confidently build a valuable art collection that will stand the test of time.

3. You have the money to maintain the artwork

Investing in art can provide a unique sense of control over your assets. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and keeping your artwork in pristine condition is key. Factors such as humidity and sunlight must be constantly monitored to ensure the artwork remains intact.

Whether displayed or stored, the cost of maintaining your investment can quickly stack up. Insurance and authenticity certificates can also add to the maintenance bill.

Where to look for art

There are various ways in which you can get hold of exclusive art pieces. Below are some of the main ways you can access a (potentially) profitable art investment.

1. Museums and art galleries

Museums and art galleries are great places to start. At a gallery, you can find a carefully curated selection of artwork, often from both well-known and up-and-coming artists.

(Photo: Elisa Maesano/Unsplash)

In addition to being able to purchase pieces for your collection, visiting galleries can also expose you to new styles and trends in the art world.

2. Auctions

Art enthusiasts who have a fiery passion for the finest masterpieces and an appetite for exciting bidding wars frequently flock to the spectacles that are auction houses. They know that these high-stakes events are both thrilling and potentially lucrative. With an intense environment and savvy competitors, bidding wars can be quite intense, but don't let that deter you.

3. Online marketplaces

With online art marketplaces, the world of art is truly at your fingertips. Whether you're an art enthusiast or a seasoned collector, Saatchi Art, Artsy, and Artfinder offer an extensive range of options for browsing and purchasing art online.

With access to works from countless artists and galleries, you can search for pieces that speak to you and even discover new artists whose work you may have never encountered before. The best part? There's no need to wait for art fairs or gallery openings – everything is available at your convenience.

(Image: Female Invest)

4. Websites and social media platforms

Is there a particular artist you've got your artistic eye on? Well many artists sell their artworks directly to collectors through their own websites or social media platforms, so hunt them down on the internet.

How to invest in art

Deciding to invest in art can be a daunting experience, but with a bit of research and preparation, it can also be an incredibly rewarding one. Begin by setting a budget that you're comfortable with, taking into account potential costs like storage and maintenance.

Once you've established your financial parameters, familiarize yourself with the art world by visiting galleries and speaking with curators. If you live in a big city like London, New York or Paris, there will be dozens of galleries on your doorstep! Utilise these and get a sense of the market.

You can also have a browse online to get a sense of the online marketplace - what's out there, what you can afford. This will also give you a better sense of how the art market works.

Bottom line is this: don't be shy – most are more than happy to share their knowledge and offer guidance. By taking these steps, you can feel empowered and confident as you embark on your investing journey as an art investor.

(Photo: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash)

How to purchase artwork

Depending on the piece of artwork you've got your eye on, you will either buy directly from the buyer or through online marketplaces.

1. Directly from the seller

Investing in art directly through the seller or artist can be an empowering experience. By skipping the middleman, you have more control over the entire process, from negotiating the price to choosing the piece that speaks to you. Not only does it give you the satisfaction of knowing that you have an original masterpiece, but it can also be a wise financial decision.

2. Online marketplaces

In this day and age, art enthusiasts have the opportunity to purchase high-end artwork online. However, it is imperative to be cautious when making such purchases over the internet. You want to ensure that you are buying from a reputable gallery, dealer, or investment firm.

By doing so, you not only protect yourself from potential fraud but also empower yourself as a knowledgeable consumer. Take the time to research the seller, ask for authenticity certificates, and ask any questions before making a purchase.

3. Buying shares

Are you a lover of art, but hesitant to invest in a pricey tag? There's no need to hold back any longer. You now have the option to buy shares in various art pieces through online marketplaces. By doing so, you can become a part-owner of stunning artwork without breaking the bank.

This empowering option allows you to invest in your passion and build your personal art collection without the financial burden. Don't let cost hold you back from enjoying the beauty of art. Join the online art community and take ownership in the world's finest masterpieces.