During these challenging economic times it can be difficult to know what to do with your money. Should you invest in stocks, real estate or just stay in cash? While I’m far from an economic advisor, I have run across a couple articles that talks about art as an investment. Trevor Richards in his article How You Can Invest in Art says: “For centuries an original painting has been seen as being prestigious.....and even today it is still very much the case. Art works are sold around the world, sometimes for millions of dollars, just because these works are seen as something of great beauty and also an item of immense investment value. Your purchase of an original painting means that no one else will have a work of art exactly like yours. It is a one of a kind, which makes it something special and very valuable.”
Trevor also points out one of the great benefits of investing in art: “One major advantage that an art collection has over other collectable items like stamps and coins is that you can admire your investment every day ...Because it can hang on the wall of your home or office where it is able to be seen by not only you, but by family and friends.”
Daniel Gross in his article Painting for Profit-Is Art a Wise Investment points out: “A J.M.W. Turner view of Venice sold at auction at Christie's in London on May 29, 1897, for $35,000 and then sold at Christie's in New York [April 2006] for $35.8 million—which yields about a 6 percent annual return for 109 years. Which is pretty darn good.” In the mid-2000’s Mei Moses Jiangping Mei created a fine art index which tracked the performance of fine art. In 2006 they found that over the last 50 years the S&P 500 returned 10.9 percent annually while fine art returned 10.5 percent annually. “And in the five years between 2001 and 2005, art trounced stocks.”
While this doesn’t mean you should sell all your portfolio and head down to the local gallery, it does show that original fine art can be a sound investment. I believe a person should invest in a painting if that painting speaks to them regardless of any profit potential. In this day and age beauty is such an important yet neglected part of the human experience. Art is both a refuge as well as a statement on the importance of beauty. But it is nice to know that the painting that is bringing you so much joy may also be increasing in monetary value as it hangs on your wall.