Art Investment: The Cold Hard Truth pt. 1 –

Art Investment: The Cold Hard Truth pt. 1 –

I have read and heard so much incorrect information regarding art investment of late that I think it is about time that the cold hard truth about art investment is made available.  So, here it goes.

Should I invest in art?

The answer to this question depends on how much money you have to invest. Only a very small percentage of the works of art in existence will experience an increase in value that is rapid enough and sufficient enough to provide the investor with a worthwhile return on their investment. Those works of art that can provide a good return are inevitably going to cost significant sums of money due to the fact that the characteristics that make a work of art a good investment are really only found in highly valued works of art. There is really no inexpensive way of successfully investing in art. Another option is to invest in a fine art fund, which essentially allows investors to purchase a share in a managed portfolio of carefully selected works of art. Once again, however, the minimum investment for such funds is quite high at around the US$250,000 mark, which is more than the average person is likely to be able to afford. The other problem with fine art funds is that the investors do not get to experience any of the pleasures of owning the works of art which, quite frankly, is one of the very few benefits of art investment. It is fair to say that people who want to buy art generally want to see it and enjoy it. That is, unless one has enough money to be able to invest in a fine art fund and purchase art for their own pleasure. Investors in fine art funds should expect to get a 10-15% a year return on their investment according to Philip Hoffman, manager of an art fund called The Fine Art Fund. Proper art investment, ie. using fine art to generate a worthwhile return on your investment, is really only a pursuit for the wealthy as success really is relative to the amount of money one can invest. For those that do have the money, however, the returns can be quite high and the risk quite minimal.

Can I successfully invest in contemporary art?

Since contemporary art appears to be relatively cheap compared to the work of, say, the old masters, it is often presumed that buying contemporary art is an easy and Large profits can be made from investing in contemporary art, but investing in contemporary art is a very risky business. Successful investment in contemporary art usually requires a “flipping” approach that involves buying and selling works in relatively quick succession to take advantage of short term trends. This approach is very, very risky and requires that the investor have large sums of money to invest that he/she is willing and able to lose. Not only does one need lots of money and bravery to be a successful “flipper”, one also needs to have the right knowledge and contacts at hand, which very few people do. With the right advisor it is possible to profit from investing in contemporary art over the long term but the risks are still high. What it comes down to is that there are plenty of way better investment vehicles for those investors who are wanting high risk with the potential for high returns. In other words, contemporary art is not a good investment.

To be continued………..

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications


Art Bankers Take Advantage of Falling Prices-

Art Bankers Take Advantage of Falling Prices-

falling pricesThe interest in structured art investment programs has continued to remain relatively high considering the recent concerns voiced by some regarding the state of the art market. Since the beginning of the year there have been several new art investment programs launched which suggests that the categorisation of art as an asset class has not been damaged by the recent market jitters. In fact, with plenty of bargains up for grabs there is probably no better time for art investment funds to be buying works.

The most significant of the new programs is the so called “Collection of Modern Art Fund” which is a product of the UK based Castlestone Management, a privately owned independent fund manager. According to the fund website ( “Collection of Modern’s Art’s investment philosophy is focused on building a diversified portfolio of artists to provide medium to long-term appreciation based on thorough research and the proven strength of the market for these artists. The portfolio composition is a key component to ensuring the returns of the fund are in line with the market. With this achieved, the fund can act as a real asset, increasing in value with money supply and inflation and thus providing an inflation hedge. In the initial selection process, the manager aims to identify works of art for the portfolio that broadly represent the Art Market Research 100 index”

The second major art investment program to be launched is a collaboration between the China Merchants Bank and the China Contemporary Art Foundation. China Merchants Bank (CMB) have taken what is a slightly different approach to art banking by offering their clients the opportunity to put down a deposit on a work of art chosen a group of experts and take possession of the work of art for a period of twelve months. If after the twelve month period the client decides that they want to purchase the work of art they can do so or if they do not want to purchase it they can return it and receive a full refund. According to one of the bank’s representatives who was interviewed by the People’s Daily Online Newspaper, “Some banks hire art investment consultant and bring clients’ money to auction house. We are not doing that, because it easily slips out of control. We offer free transportation and as long as the artwork is well preserved, our clients will at least break-even”

Adding to the options for keen art fund investors is Phillip Hoffman’s The Fine Art Fund Group Ltd ( who have indicated at the beginning of the year that they would be starting a new fund to take advantage of the fall in price of many works of art. Since the beginning of the year Hoffman has further indicated his intentions to raise $100 million dollars of the next year to purchase works from private and institutional collections that are up for sale. According to a report from the Financial Times, the group is currently looking at purchasing two major art collections one of which is owned by a Spanish bank and the other by a manufacturer. After postponing their plans for a dedicated Indian art fund creatively titled the Indian Fine Art Fund due to the current instability of the market for Indian art, it is good to see this new initiative from Hoffman.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

Osian’s Art Fund Emerges as High Yielding Asset Class in Global Meltdown –

Osian’s Art Fund Emerges as High Yielding Asset Class in Global Meltdown –

Osian’s, today presented the 5th Six Monthly Disclosure Report (10 July 2008 – 9 January 2009) on behalf of the privately placed closed-ended Osian’s Art Fund (OAF). The Report establishes that the Osian’s Art Fund is one of the few investments providing a positive rate of return, more than 10.59% CAGR (post taxes) over the last 30 months, holding its own with relative stability, during the worse financial meltdown in global history.

In the current scenario, while Gold has emerged as the highest yielding asset class providing over 12.47% CAGR, followed by Debt Fund at 10.98% CAGR, the Osian’s Art Fund is only marginally behind (refer Attachment 1). The credibility of well managed, high quality art as an asset, for serious institutional investments, has now clearly emerged.

Mr. Neville Tuli, Founder-Chairman, Osian’s, said, “Today, we are close to achieving our first integrated global platform whereby the dual responsibilities of building great knowledge bases hand in hand with creating systematic wealth can be united on sustainable, accountable and transparent platforms. It will always be work in progress but the proximity of the bridge-building exercise is now clear for most to see.”

The Osian’s Art Fund, set up under the Indian Trusts Act, launched its first privately placed scheme Contemporary-1 on 10 July 2006, raising a corpus of Rs. 102.4 Cr. The Fund, a close-ended scheme with a lock in period of 36 months was open to investors only by private placement and the minimum investment was Rs.10 lac and then in multiples of Rs.5 lac.

The Fund attracted 656 investors from all over India. The top 10 cities from which the highest Osian’s client response was received were Delhi NCR (31.4%) followed by Mumbai (27.1), Kolkata (10.2%), Bangalore (8.8%), Chennai (7.9%), Hyderabad (3.9%), Surat (2.2%), Baroda (1.7%), Pune (0.9%) & Ahmedabad (0.8%). In totality, the Osian’s client base extended to 39 towns & cities, showing the national scale reach and interest. Out of the total number of investors about 82.72% had ventured into the area of investment in art for the very first time, though they were aware of Osian’s as an Auction House and Archive. Also, out of the total number of investors, 82.75% are individuals, 10.07 % are corporates and 7.18% are firms.

The Fund (as on 9 Jan 2009) has invested in a number of artists with a very well diversified portfolio based on their historical significance. These include the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) (20.92%), a Focus on Abstraction (17.20%), Calcutta Group & Painters (16.74%), a Figurative Focus (non PAG) (15.22%), Contemporary Art (8.33%), a Figurative Focus (Bengal) (6.17%), Cholamandal Artists (4.05%), a Figurative Focus (Delhi) (2.96%), Sculpture (2.78%), National Art Treasures (1.54%), Baroda School (1.11%) and Others (2.97%) (refer Attachment 2) V.S. Gaitonde, M.F. Husain & Akbar Padamsee are the three leading artists with the largest allocation.

High quality Indian art is more and more being seen as a credible asset, with many advantages over other assets. The Auction Sales turnover has taken a great leap from INR 133 millions in 1999 to INR 5527 millions in 2008, having achieved a growth of 51.26% CAGR.

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.