South African art is prov­ing to be a pru­dent in­vest­ment for wealth-cre­ators look­ing be­yond tra­di­tional as­set classes


Over the past few years, fine art has emerged as a new as­set class for the well-di­ver­si­fied port­fo­lio, with eye­catch­ing re­turns. With SA boast­ing the lion’s share of the con­ti­nen­tal mar­ket, lo­cal art has come un­der the spot­light.

Mar­ket re­search group New World Wealth found that the global top-end art mar­ket is val­ued at around $75 bil­lion. African art ac­counts for about $1 bil­lion of this, with $450 mil­lion held specif­i­cally in SA. Ac­cord­ing to the group’s in-house in­dices, South African fine art prices have risen by 28% over the past 10 years (in dol­lar terms). Global fine art prices have risen by 12% over the same pe­riod.

The re­port iden­ti­fies the top South

African artists in terms of prices fetched in the mar­ket, with Irma Stern lead­ing the way. Her work fetches up to R30 mil­lion per paint­ing, with an av­er­age price of R5 mil­lion.

Works by Cape-based Ex­pres­sion­ist Mag­gie Laub­ser fetch up to R5 mil­lion per paint­ing, while the av­er­age price is around R600 000. The value of pieces by the painter and print­maker, who died in 1973, is ex­pected to rise sub­stan­tially.

Paint­ings by ac­claimed land­scape artist Jakobus Hen­drik Pierneef cur­rently fetch av­er­age prices of about R800 000 per paint­ing, but his works can fetch up to R20 mil­lion.

The only black artist to make the list is the late Ger­ard Sekoto, whose paint­ings sell for an av­er­age price of R400 000 and top out at R5 mil­lion. Born in Bot­sha­belo, Mpumalanga and con­sid­ered a pi­o­neer of black South African art, he was crit­i­cally ac­claimed for his abil­ity to cap­ture the hu­man­ity and re­al­ism of ev­ery­day scenes, giv­ing dig­nity to black South Africans and es­chew­ing the dis­tance that sep­a­rated cel­e­brated Euro­pean artists from their sub­jects dur­ing his life­time. He died in

Paris in self-im­posed ex­ile in 1993, hav­ing ac­quired a rep­u­ta­tion in Europe, but with­out a sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing in SA.

New World Wealth also iden­ti­fied sev­eral artists ex­pected to shine in the fu­ture, so you can start in­vest­ing ahead of the curve. The Renoir of SA, the late Adri­aan Boshoff, Yu­goslav-born Branko Dim­itrov and the won­der­fully named Portchie, who spe­cialises in colour­ful land­scapes and bronze sculp­tures, are among them.

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