In 2012 the small oil rich country Qatar rocked the art world by paying a record $250 million for a painting by Post Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne, sparking up once again the long debate; Is art a good investment? Especially in these tough economic times when once stable stock investments are rocky at best, some investors and even Countries, are looking for creative ways to invest their money.
And though in San José del Cabo’s Gallery District, we are not talking about multimillion dollar works of art, or originals by Post Impressionist masters, I am asked all the time, if buying art is a good investment. This is hard to answer, especially since we are not talking about blue-chip art that is constantly being appraised and reappraised, and the appreciation of art cannot be tracked easily as other investments because the value of artwork seems to defy financial logic, it is more based upon trends and fads dictated by popular culture. Honestly, it is a bit of a crap-shoot, but remains a popular way to add diversity to the more traditional forms of investment.
How collectors can really turn their art into a good investment is by enjoying it. Major collectors as well as the tourists and local homeowners in Los Cabos buy art in the San José del Cabo Gallery District for the prestige and the passion for collecting. The fun part about buying art and the main reason people should acquire new works are to hang them on the wall or place them on a coffee table, and enjoy them, to show it off! Seasoned art investors/collectors will always recommend buying art, first and foremost because you love it and that it speaks to you and then secondly, raise the question of its value and importance in terms of investment.
Some important tips that investors/collectors use, can also be used by the regular off-the-street art buyer. First, educate yourself as much as possible as to what your tastes in art are. So many folks tell me they do not know what they like because they know nothing about art. And sure, an Art History course could be helpful in giving you confidence in looking at and acquiring art, but it is hardly necessary. The beauty of art is that it is subjective, you know if you like it, and for sure you know if you hate it! The more you know about what you like, the better informed you will be to make an investment in something you can live with and enjoy, as well as make an educated decision as to its popularity and staying power in future markets.
Look for emerging talent. The world is full of yet undiscovered talent, or artists who are just emerging on the scene, who have established representation in galleries, but still for the most part remain unknown. The works by emerging artists in general have a way smaller price tag. They want collectors to not only notice their work, but to buy it, thus building their reputations and the value of their works. And buy the best you can afford! Look careful at what you are purchasing, make sure there are no dings or damage. Make sure they are originals if the purchase is for investment purposes. In this digital world reproductions run rampant, and though they are a great way to enjoy art for less money, as an investment it is a bad choice. Originals, because they are unique, are what will appreciate in value, unlike digital reproductions or work being pumped out of a studio painted by various artists.
The best advice I can give you when buying a piece for not only your enjoyment but as an investment is to use the resources offered to you, ask the gallery owners and artists questions!! They want your business and for the most part they will try and accommodate a potential collector. If you have fallen in love with a piece, but it is out of your price range, talk to the gallery about smaller works or studies by that artist. Ask them questions about a specific artist’s background and any additional info on a specific piece. The more informed you are about an artist and their work the better you will feel about your decision. Remember, good art is not always expensive and not all expensive art is necessarily good.