The Art of Investment
Looking to park some big money in art? A quick guide of how to make the most of your investment by choosing right.
The onus of nurturing and promoting young talent usually falls on art biennales and fairs, galleries and museum programmes. It is important to note though that it’s only a dynamic primary art market that leads a successful secondary market.
What qualifies as investment? In my view art and investment should not be part of the same sentence, especially when you start to build a collection. The art you collect should reflect your personality and passions, not your bank account. With pure investment on your mind, you can never build a private collection. However, the minute you become an established collector, your search for masterpieces to complete your collection means higher costs of acquisition, which will involve some serious thoughts on investment.
The way to these works will take time, so in the meantime, collect what speaks to you. And how exactly does that work? Start by training your eye: visit gallery openings and go back when it is quieter for a word with the gallerist; pre-auction exhibitions are another good way to look at art. Discovering as much as possible about artists that interest you will bring you closer to understanding the artist and his work circles better.
Making your first buy If this should be in an auction
house, I recommend attending a couple of auctions without bidding, just to observe and understand the mechanism of an auction and which prices work for you. After studying the art market you should finally be ready to make a good purchase. The main thing to remember is to enjoy the process and the art you discover.
Which artists to collect? For contemporary art being presented on the primary market, go and explore. Once you have found artists that you think are interesting, process and analyse the information you collect, balance these against the emotional value the work holds for you and take a final decision.
On the secondary market there are still possibilities to buy works of art by major masters, maybe not in oil but on paper. The “works on paper” category still allows you to collect works by major artist for a fraction of the price their oil on canvas works would fetch. It remains a category of great treasure hunts.
A good indication for a stable and increasing market value is when an artist starts to be represented on both markets. I remember artists such as Peter Doig, Gerhard Richter or Jean-Michel Basquiat entering the auction catalogues at very modest estimates—a moment I missed out on to start collecting their work. Lesson learned. Observe and be at the right place at the right time to build your collection based on your passions.
Modern Indian art At Christie’s we have been holding South Asian Modern and Contemporary auctions since the 1990s in New York and London and continue to do so with strong results that are built on a growing collector circle. This increasing international interest in Indian art is mirrored by recent exhibitions of VS Gaitonde at the Guggenheim Museum New York and Venice, M F Husain at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Nasreen Mohamedi at Tate Liverpool and Bhupen Khakhar at Tate Modern London. It is fantastic to see these renowned international institutions interested in showing our artists.
Forthcoming auctions From end-November until mid-December at our gallery in Mumbai, we will be hosting an exhibition of works to be offered at our South Asian Art Auctions in New York in 2019. They will be shown alongside important pieces from other Modern and Contemporary categories.
Our regular sale seasons for South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art start in New York in March and then move to London in June. Another auction in New York takes place in the Autumn, and we conclude with a selection of works in our Hong Kong week auctions in November. The top lot of the New York sales this March (illustrated here) was a masterpiece by Syed Haider Raza,
Tapovan, painted in 1972, which realised $4,452,500, setting a new world auction record for the artist and for the category of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art.
HIGH STAKES Syed Haider Raza (19222016) Tapovan