Investing in art for first time buyers

Investing in art for first time buyers

Investing in art is becoming more popular especially with so much information about artists and the art market available online.  As a first time art buyer, there are a few things you should know before attending your first art auction or gallery showing. As a Cape Town artist, I am inspired by the surrounding landscapes and seascapes, which is what I like to paint.   


Therefore my first advice is to surround yourself with art you like, so you’ll get enjoyment out of it no matter what happens in the art market.

Everyone’s tastes are different, so to find out what artwork inspires you, visit art galleries, attend art exhibitions, and read magazines, websites and art columns in newspapers.

Once you have an idea of what artist’s work you like, do your homework about the artist. Find out who they are represented by, what reputation they have in the art world and what their artworks sell for.

Be aware that art is unlike other investments. Unless you’re investing in South African masters, like Irma Stern and Pierneef, whose works fetch in excess of R10 million Rand, you’re unlikely to observe as high returns from your investment in the short term. A contemporary artist’s work might only become valuable once they pass on.

It’s not easy to understand what effects the price and value of art therefore if you’re unsure about the price of an artwork you’d like to buy, have it properly valued by an expert or professional organisation like Stephen Welze and Co. They will assist you in identifying an artwork’s origin and also be able to give you more information about the artist.

Be aware of fake artworks. Consult an expert such as an art historian or gallery.

Remember art, like red wine, appreciates over time. So don’t be in a rush to sell.  

Educate yourself with regards to how the pricing of art is determined and how you can invest profitably. The price of art usually increases over time when strong bidding occurs at auctions, so its best you attend as many as you can or keep track of selling results.

Keep track of how South African artists and their artworks compare on a global scale by following large art related private institutions like Citadel, FNB, Standard Bank, etc.

Investing in art and making a profit is possible and the further you explore your new passion the better understanding you’ll have of how it all works. However always remember that the value of art is based on people’s tastes which differ and therefore what is valuable today might not be tomorrow. So always like what you buy, and you’ll never go wrong.

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