How to invest in art without losing your shirt

Buy art? You gotta to be joking.

Owning art is like owning a boat; it’s a very good way of spending large amounts of money, and then spending even more maintaining your investment, and then never seeing a cent of a return at the end. But of course that’s not always the case… can make you very rich. Ask Hugh Grant for example.

$100m for Hirst’s ‘For the Love of God’? Bargain or rip off of the Millennium?

Conventional wisdom says only buy art that you like, or preferably art that you love. But of course buyers inhabit a spectrum: at the one end buying for the love of it; at the other end buying purely as an investment. If people are honest with themselves most are in the huge rump in the middle of the spectrum, buying art they like, secretly hoping it will be worth ten times as much when the pension needs topping up or when gambling debts are due.

For anyone with a clear mind there comes a time when they think: “Does anyone really know what makes a good investment strategy in the art world?” Well of course there are plenty of people giving advice, and much of it is pretty predictable, and it’s better than no advice at all but there is little ever said that is new.

So rather than add to the mass of advice out there, we will point you to relatively useful articles when they appear.

This weekend’s excellent Financial Times ‘How to…Invest in art has dipped its toe in the water with a fairly concise piece covering most of the main angles: how to start; where to look; how to find independent valuations; storage, insurance. Enjoy! (Word of warning: You will have to subscribe, but it’s free for a small number of stories each week. Well worth it for a bit of content-cherrypicking).

Oh and what about Hugh Grant? Well, he famously confessed to being drunk at an auction when he bought a Warhol painting of Elizabeth Taylor for £2 million, only to sell it six years later for £13 million. Kerching!

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