Investing In Wall Art for the Future


People who are stuck at home are tired of looking at the same things over and over. Art sales on the Internet turn out to have a surge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Auction houses sold hundreds of millions worth of decorative objects and fine arts this year. It triples the value of sold decorative objects and fine arts in 2019.

In that time, more or less 20,000 lots were sold compared to 5,000 sold during the same period in 2019. Online portals for furniture and art dealers say that they facilitated the sale of at least 8,000 artworks between March and August, a 60% jump from previous years.

Experts are hoping that new art collectors will like whatever they purchased. How far people’s money goes will come down to combinations of financial priorities, taste, and personal preference. If they try to resell the artwork or decorative objects they just purchased, they will soon discover that the beauty of these things is in the eye of the beholder.

But the value is always in the hands of other people. If you look at the numbers, there are at least 40 million completed art transactions in 2019. The average price of the art that dealers sold was $10,000. And there are at least 300,000 businesses that are selling antiques and artwork worldwide.

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Why it matters

Suppose the value of the art goes up. In that case, it traditionally does so through small numbers of predictable channels like dealers who persuade their clients to spend more money, auction houses that tempt their wealthy collectors to bid higher on certain pieces, collectors purchasing and selling arts to fellow collectors, as well as through a community of scholars, curators, tastemakers, and critics who contribute, in any way, to the perception of the piece’s worth.

The rest are left to purchase pieces that will usually lose value the second they hang it on their wall – and they cannot get their money back after they purchased the art piece. In short, do not stress out about purchasing these things as investments since these things are usually the bad apples.

With that being said, there are ways people can take advantage of the art they are purchasing. Individuals can consider the acquisition as they would a lamp or chair, something to be enjoyed and used but not resold to other collectors.

Or people can approach it as a significant financial decision after acknowledging that the best plan still does not guarantee an ROI or Return on Investment. Either way, people can use these guides to their advantage. Remember that if individuals do not want to live with the consequences of purchasing an artwork, decorative object, or antique, it is not worth buying, no matter the price of the piece.

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There are tons of markets to choose from

Just because one piece costs less compared to others does not mean it is an excellent deal. It could be that a particular piece is subject to different market forces compared to others. For instance, the demand for Chinese vases is not the same as the market for renaissance paintings or sculptures.

The ways in which the value of the item is created in a Chinese vase market is miles apart from that of a renaissance or neo-pop art market. So before individuals look at an item and decide it is an excellent deal, they need to make sure they are basing their assumption on the sales of similar or other objects.

Generally speaking, new enthusiasts or collectors used to lean towards paintings because they are the most accessible and obvious choice. But people should not overlook excellent prints, photographs, etchings, or watercolors. Similarly, galleries usually focus on 20th or 21st-century arts. Reality speaking, individuals can choose from the vast history of art – more or less 7,000 years of history.


Put faith in dealers or brokers

Art galleries take a 50% cut on every item sold. It is reasonable to wonder whether you can save tons of money by purchasing direct from artists. But people need to remember that when galleries add artists to their stable, it is usually committing to partner with these artists, fronting their money to make pieces, investing a lot on promoting their shows, as well as helping pay to get their work shown in reputable museums.

In return, artists usually commit to these galleries for the same purpose and reason. If they had an excellent relationship with their dealers, they most probably would not be open to the idea of selling their items behind their dealer’s back.

Fortunately, if the dealer has a good reputation and vested interests in the artist they are promoting or has a proven record of purchasing and reselling pieces after they sold them the first time, there is a good chance that they will be able to resell their own art.

Small, mid-size, or big galleries are places where people can go to buy and sell pieces (at least in theory). Dealers are the advocate and ambassadors of pieces. When it comes to increasing or sustaining their value, people will usually need their expertise, clout, and influence to make it happen.

Always take into account the cost of labor

When buying or investing in wall arts, there is a good chance that they are made by an individual who is doing their very best to live off the profits of their masterpieces. Because of this, the cost of the artist’s quality of life, as well as the cost of materials, are included in the price. It is the reason why paintings on bars or coffee shops can have substantial price tags.

There is an easy way around it – buy pieces that have been purchased and sold before. This way, people can eliminate some of the markup prices. People can also visit smaller auction houses that are usually found online. Collectors will still be paying the buyer’s premium, but the item itself will usually be sold at a lower price.

Look for blind spots

The market in this industry has biases that have not artistic merit. Paintings of particular artists can sell for tens of millions, but drawings from the same artist are sold for lower prices. For instance, a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti (a Swiss artist from the 20th century) was vend for more or less $150 million, while his paintings were sold for a fraction of that amount.

Last year, a portrait of Alberto’s brother was vend for $1.6 million. That was chump change compared to the amount his bronze sculpture was sold. People need to remember that these biases are not impossible to change. They can be changed as quickly and efficiently as fashion trends. So if the artist’s work is currently selling at a high price, you need to consider their later work because it might be auctioned for a lower price.

If a particular artistic period is undesirable at the moment, there is a good chance that the style will make a comeback in a couple of years. Not only that, just because some items are pretty old does not mean that it is out of reach. A 2,600-year-old Etruscan lion figurine was sold for $13,000 at an auction last year.

A 2,300-year-old stiff necklace or gold torque was vend for $1,000 less than an 18-Karat gold chain necklace sold at Tiffany’s in the same auction. There are gold figurines at least thousands of years old that can cost less than the price they would get if they were melted down and sold as a gold nugget.