A gentleman’s guide to investing in art

Make your money work harder, and more impressively, with a Picasso on your wall

It is an immutable fact that no person has ever increased their wealth notably by simply putting their money in a savings account. Now art is a global currency, prices for some works can change hands for tens of millions. As Alexander Pope said though: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, and choosing what to invest in can be a daunting process. Take some tips from Oliver Newton, a highly experienced art and silver curator for HNWI, on how you can invest in art the hassle-free way.

1. Find the art you like

Find a category you like because you’re going to have to live with it. You may already have something in mind, but like all investments, their worth goes up, as well as down. Oliver’s advice is simple: “You don’t have to be an art enthusiast, but as long as you have some sort of connection with it, it’s a lot easier to live with it on your wall than if it’s worth 30% less than what you originally paid for it.”

2. Buy the best of what you can afford

Whether your budget is £5 million or £5,000 pounds, Oliver believes in buying the best object. His tip: “Never try and buy a cheap version of something great just to get the name.” Also Oliver advises to spend your budget on one or two great things, rather than ten. “People come to me asking why should they pay over the odds for say, some Paul Storr silver wine coolers he made for the Royal Family, rather than his candles holders. The point is, the wine coolers are the best, there’s something very special about them and they’ll always keep that price.”

3. Great names in art sell

History has shown time and again that the great artists, sculptors and designers always perform better in an investment capacity. As art is globally renowned, this means Monet, Picasso and Warhol are globally tradeable. “The market in Picasso’s works has risen massively, and you could argue that, not always, but most of the time, the reason these artists fetch so much is because they are examples of the best works out there.”

4. Appoint an adviser

You wouldn’t buy any stocks or shares without a little due diligence first, correct? The same stands to reason in the art world believes Oliver: “If you’re spending a serious amount of your wealth either appoint an advisor to buy the best, or even to point you away from things that you might want, because they may be fakes, or need of high restoration costs for example.” Not sure where to get an advisor? Try Beaumont Nathan.

5. Go to the best dealers

Just as you’d go to Savile Row to get the finest suit imaginable, so you should visit the best dealers too, in order to buy art to invest in. Oliver informs us to go to Richard Green, which has a great reputation, but one that may make a dent in your wallet. However, as he surmises: “There’s a reason why you go and buy the best things in the best shops. Because they’re the best and you know they have that provenance. You can can also count on the the dealer to provide all the comfort and assurance you need that they’ve studied the work and have some comeback should anything be wrong.”

6. Age

The dichotomy of choosing whether to invest in something contemporary versus anything before the post-modern era for Oliver is simple: “Buy items that aren’t being produced now, because they are unique, finite and won’t be made again”. Also art is susceptible to changes in fashion; Koons and Hirst were important once, but their works can dip in and out of favour with buyers. So, and this relates to our first point, whatever happens to the value of your investment, as least you’ve still got a great picture on your wall.

Further Reading