23 Jun 2008

Art auctions good for investors

With so many art exhibitions taking place it can be very confusing for a buyer to decide on the art, artist and the medium to buy, especially from an investment perspective . The list of artists who are talented and are producing interesting works is endless . It becomes very difficult then to narrow down one's search and zero on to a winner . Given the choice to buy from an artist directly, a gallery or at an auction, the answer would depend on factors such as budget, individual preferences and knowledge of art.
You can buy directly from an artist if that artist is selling from his studio, but this scenario is fast getting outdated . Most good artists are bound by contract from galleries and usually do not sell works privately. When picking up art by students and new artists it is a good idea to buy directly from them. Investors who are knowledgeable about art may also choose to buy directly from the artist, but one must especially look for quality and the condition of the work. In general, the woks displayed at a gallery are of a better quality, as they are often either a part of a curated show or the best from the artist's collection. When buying from a gallery look for one that has an excellent reputation , organises shows of reputed artists and has established credentials in terms of transparency in dealing and good business practises.
Painting by MS Murthy
Buying at an auction (secondary market) works well for those who are looking at art from a purely investment angle and have the requisite budget. Often one may be able to get top of the line works at an auction. Even if the prices are high (premium , commissions, taxes etc), it is well worth it. The biggest advantage is that the works come with a provenance , authenticity and are usually of good quality. When rare or an artist's best works show up at an auction there might be fierce bidding for it. But, in general, an auction is a great way to consolidate one's collection. And, for those who are looking at making the right investment , it makes sense to buy at an auction.

(Published in Financial Times)
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