Invest only in the best artworks and learn how the market works

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 November, 2011, 12:00am


High-quality works of art are not only good vehicles for the well-heeled to diversify their investment portfolios, they also provide years of enjoyment, according to experts at the 'Timeless Treasures' event.

At Forfar's Grand Mansion, surrounded by examples of Chinese contemporary art, courtesy of Schoeni Art Gallery, Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby's Asia, says that sometimes the more a piece of art is exposed, the less value it will hold. 'It is not a good idea for you to buy something, then immediately put it up for public sale.'

Ching also says the prices of works of art are not clearly defined. Although auction houses publish the prices of lots sold, only 50 per cent of the works are transacted through auctions, with the remainder sold privately through dealers and galleries, he adds.

A guiding principle for investment in art is to buy the best one can afford. Sometimes a buyer makes the mistake of acquiring a particular painting by a specific artist because he considers it a bargain.

'We should always buy what we truly like,' Ching says. 'I am a jade collector and when I started out over 20 years ago, the market in China was very limited. These jade items have given me so much pleasure, so I did not mind [that the value did not go up]. I just persevered collecting them. Now, as the market in China is opening up and hence the demand for fine jade has grown, some of my items have gone up in value tremendously.'

Individuals interested in investing in art can start by reading up on the subject. To further enrich their knowledge, it is helpful that they befriend seasoned collectors. 'Through talking to these collectors, they can learn a lot more about the operation of the art market,' Ching advises.

Nicole Schoeni recommends art enthusiasts intent in collecting for investment should visit art galleries and auction previews. They can also make use of various resources, such as the internet, for research on specific artists and find out about exhibitions held and the galleries that represent them.

It is also important to build relationships with galleries. 'They can give you advice about how to build a collection. For example, they can tell you who will be the up-and-coming artists,' she says. 'I would like to stress that we should buy art pieces which bring us great enjoyment. This is the main point. Investment is a bonus.'