The art of investment is a science of the highest level. Avoiding the bubbles, targeting the bargains and investing on the dip are the best tactics of a sound and solid investor; patience and restraint should be exercised in the quest for that right moment and opportunity. As the years went by experience taught me to rein myself in, save the money and wait for that opportune moment.


Chapter XXXVII Emerging Markets Call for Investments!

Investing in art has taken a myriad of routes, innumerable styles of paintings and hundreds of artists. By the time the Olympics in Athens had finished, my portfolio was about 80% Greek. That was an unbalanced portofolio, mainly driven by sentiment. This was short – sighted and very risky. The Greek market had had a great run for over twenty years, which I had exploited well. It had accelerated in the new millennium and as Sotheby’s reported in 2008 had improved by over 500%. But how much further could it climb? I had no idea, but I was aware of similar rapid increases and then major busts, such as the Swedish and Spanish markets in the late 1980s and 1990s and more recently the Irish art market.

Quick action was required to put some order into my passion of collecting Greek art and balance my portfolio.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” (Aesop)

A successful investor adjusts to a changing economic environment and that I needed to do once again. The venture had begun with investments in Victorian art and 19th Century European art quickly followed by Impressionist, Contemporary, Russian and Greek art. Where would I turn to next? It was always a struggle to be one step ahead or even half a step ahead of the rest of investors/collectors, and then with the Internet and mobile phones revolutionizing information and provision of data it had become even more difficult. Regardless I had to take remedial action; I had to balance the portfolio. I would do this by selling Greek art and investing in emerging markets, in underrated and unknown artists and hopefully bargains that went unnoticed. I had to carry on and look for new investments with potential.

Where can I invest £11,000 aiming at a return of 50-100%?

The new millennium pointed to new superpowers and shifting of the world’s wealth from continent to continent and more significantly from country to country. The South – East Asian economies had been showing fast GDP growth for years especially at the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. These were the economies that promised an 8% annual GDP for years to come, and if that happened their art would also grow by as much if not by more, I concluded.

Experience of twenty-five years supported the view that economic prosperity and cultural values come together in the long run.

Thus, I turned my attention to South – East Asia. The problem I had was which artists of which country or countries and at what level? I knew that the art market of China, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and India had been on an upward trend for a few years already so it was back to research and study of price movements; down to work and an eye on the market for those bargains that are always around us but often go undetected.

Art is a specialist field where fortunes can be made by informed investors. I have no doubt that anyone can become such an investor, provided strong desire and hard work are in play.

Autumn 2007

Depositing the money in a bank would have given me on average 2% annual return or about two hundred pounds annually. That was not clever as inflation was conservatively estimated at 3% annually. No joy in the bank and no joy in stocks that can move up and down like a yo-yo. Thus, the art investor turned to art, naturally!

It was back to the auctions of London, Paris and New York. I scrutinized the work of South – East Asian artists estimated to sell up to £6000, provided they had already sold at auction for over £15,000. It was a matter of which was the best opportunity and who promised the most in the next five to ten years. Month after month I searched hundreds of sales and events. It was a major challenge, but also very exciting to get to learn new names and analyse new investment opportunities. Catalogues, the Internet, galleries were visited day after day. There was a rush to invest, even though I kept telling myself to hold off, wait for the right opportunity, the bargain.



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