Each month the Artophile offers essential advice to art collectors in the form of answers to their most frequently asked questions relating to affordable investment art. To have your question answered on this monthly feature page, click on Contact Us and make your request.

This month's topic...


The overall rule in establishing an investment art collection is: "Buy What You Like". Remember, these pieces are going to hang on your walls for some time, so you should enjoy looking at them. But once you've set your sights on a specific style, subject, or theme, the question sometimes arises:

"Is it better to buy the promising new artist whose works will appreciate in value as his reputation grows?" or,

"Is there a stronger case for my pictures to increase in value because I own a piece of a body of work that cannot be expanded, since the creator has passed on?"

Well, try doing this exercise. Go to the Reference Section of your Public Library and look at a number of 30-40 year old art magazines. Many of these publications have full-page ads promoting works of "hot new artists" or contain reviews of new artist exhibits. Now ask yourself… how many of these names do you recognize? How many such names are being repeated in today's major art publications?

The reality is that it's about as difficult to become a famous artist today as it is to become a famous musician - thousands aspire; few succeed. For investment purposes, it's always "safer" to stay with artists who have already proven, over time, that there is a strong demand for their works. And in many cases (by no means all), these are artists who are no longer living.

Historically, there have been a few artists who have commanded a premium value because they were in their 70's or 80's. The theory was that the market would anticipate an increase in the value of their works once they had passed on. The graphic works of Henry Moore , Alexander Calder, Johnny Friedlaender and Marino Marini, for example, were excellent "speculative" material in the 1980's. Those who took the advice of the tuned-in experts and purposefully bought works of aging artists at reasonable, but gently rising, prices are very contented owners today.

An interesting point of CAUTION is NOT to buy the recently deceased artist's works immediately after his death , when emotions are running high and creating a (perceived, or hyped) run on the market. This happened most dramatically in the case of Picasso's demise; within 24 hours the dealers and speculators marked up their prices by up to 300% . And there were few takers…the graphic stocks went into a doldrum! Market corrections started occurring gradually about 10 months later, and eventually leveled out to a more reasonable 20--25% increase.


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