MY BLOG IS NOT JUST FOR ART INVESTORS
WHEN I PUT MY FIRST TEN POUNDS IN A PIECE OF ART, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD GO INTO ART INVESTMENTS IN LATER YEARS. I FELT I NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING ELSE TOO, I FELT THERE WAS ANOTHER WAY OF MAKING AN EXTRA PENNY AND SO I STARTED TIMIDLY BUYING WHAT I LIKED WITHOUT KNOWING THE FIRST THING ABOUT ART VALUES, PRICES AND ARTISTS.
THAT I HOPE WOULD COME IN TIME TIME AS IT DID OVER THE FOLLOWING YEARS AND DECADES.
Neglected and forgotten artists deserve a second and third look
NEGLECTED IN 1988 BUT ….
VASILIS ZENETZIS ( 1935-2016)
I started writing this diary with no aim a long time ago. I guess I was just feeding my own ego! That changed and the reasons why this book is now in your hands is to:
· Tell the story of an amateur investor who over time became a connoisseur
· Assist anyone wishing to follow the same path
· Help any potential investors to invest wisely
· Inform sellers where and how to sell their valuable art
· Alert sellers to their rights when selling at auction
Suggesting how to invest, who to invest in and why is not easy and not finite as there are millions of artists worldwide, but only a few thousand that might make the difference to you. Anybody reading these memoirs and thinking along the same lines as I have done over the last thirty years will have the ride of his/her life. I am convinced similar and better results can be achieved. I have arrived where I am today by loving what I have been doing and by working extremely hard.
If you have a business sense, if you are a hard worker and a small risk- taker, then you have an awesome combination to succeed either in the art business or any other business. Take the opportunities by the horn and believe in yourself.
There is an abundance of artists selling in the low hundreds and even less at auction worldwide. There are those whose work is not rated highly, while there are others whose work is of merit but in disfavour and unwanted at the time they appear at auction.
Alexandra Exter is a shining example of that. Unwanted in the USSR period and neglected, paying $3000 in February 1988 at Sotheby’s New York was a very small sum for the artist and her work. Paying £4500 four months later was still very little for the artist. Selling a Richard Sommer painting at Christie’s South Kensington for £500 in 1986 was a major mistake because similar paintings of the artist sell between twenty and forty thousand pounds today. Was it a good idea to sell a lovely John Bratby for £500 in the late 1980s?
The auction scene offers plenty of opportunities to buy underrated artists who are deceased or alive. Living artists are the ones where an investor might make a significant sum of money, but they are harder to locate and riskier to invest in. Yes, we cannot all discover a Warhol, Murakami or Hirst, but there are thousands of other artists who offer investment opportunities and those are the ones we recommend you look for.
John Bentham-Dinsdale was trading close to £2000 at best at the turn of the millennium. His marine art was of the highest quality and any price below that was an investment opportunity. AR Penck’s top art was trading in the region of £20,000 in the 1980s. His important art sells close to £200,000 today.
The opportunities to invest in artists with similar profiles are plenty. All that’s required is good research, a little knowledge, a little money and love of an artist’s work. My strong advice is to buy for personal gratification primarily and the markets and time will take care of the rest.
“ Neglected and forgotten means investment”
My story began for real when I purchased a small watercolour by an artist, Sydney Lawrence, unknown to experts and dealers at Sotheby’s. It was an investment made on aesthetic grounds that paid an art enthusiast handsomely and started my art venture. The diary has recounted many similar cases elsewhere, thus making a strong case for the argument:
“Unknown does not mean worthless”
Remember the Thon at Philips, the Coulentianos at Roseburys, Lanza at Lots Road? These are only a small number among the dozens that I can really recount. There are still plenty of other unknown artists waiting to be discovered. The reference libraries, the myriad of publications on the Internet are great sources of information, but they only reveal a small part of the whole story. Unless you unite opportunity and available information you will not make that miraculous investment that might change your life.
There are thousands of unknown artists whose work merits more respect and better financial support. The auction arena is a very unforgiving and harsh environment where such work sells for a song, although worth a lot more artistically. If the artist is unknown to you but you like the piece, then buy for art, and value for money is certain to be there too. I paid thirty-two pounds for the Page watercolours at the counter of Christie’s South Kensington. Ingrald –Lund is generally unknown, but the royal content of the painting renders it valuable. What is the difference in the art of Amorsolo and his student Custodio? The first is a famous, known artist selling over £100,000 at auction and the second one a little known artist selling for just over £1,000.
An unknown artist does not mean a bad artist; on the contrary it might mean a future master and a treasure!
Trendy and fashionable artists
There are times and long periods when the work of an artist is exceedingly desirable and much sought after by serious investors as well as one off investors who want to jump on the bandwagon. As a seasoned investor, I have already learned to avoid hot and trendy artists.
Many artists are trendy and fashionable, but not necessarily a good and sound investment for the future. What I advise here cannot be dismissed lightly:
· When an artist becomes highly fashionable and trendy, the call of the sirens and respectable gurus to invest in his/her art is a loud warning to avoid investing in such art and artist.
· Investing in an artist whose prices are frothing cannot be the best investment strategy.
Every country has its trendy and fashionable artists. They are extremely desirable and expensive contemporary artists. They are still alive, producing work in abundance, actually too much art for comfort. Will they be that collectable and a sound investment in twenty-thirty years’ time? That remains to be seen and therefore my advice is to be careful with such investments, as their future value is not guaranteed.
Art history and auction prices talk about artists whose prices saw meteoric rises for one reason or another. Then prices gradually came down to a level that made their work affordable and one where many investors were happy to invest in. What changed? Trends, fashions and times! Victorian art is not fashionable right now; the Pre-Raphaelites were the trendy art of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the prices achieved about twenty years ago are not possible any more. A few investors disappeared, prices fell and the crazy prices of those are a distant memory.
It would be unwise to part with a significant sum of money because all of a sudden certain collectors chase the work of an artist. The reasons might be promotional rather than real quality of art and market forces. There is no need to mention names among the top contemporary artists, but beware of the huge bubbles that are ready to explode. Wise are the investors who bought the art of famous contemporary artists when these artists were relatively unknown!
“Leading the pack is much wiser than following the flock!”