IMPRESSIONIST ART IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!!!
On my rounds in Athens in 1988, I came across an artist that was way ahead of the rest in his style and his talent. Vasilis Zenetzis was virtually unknown but his art was very good and his talent beyond doubt. I decided on the spot and purchased all three-four paintings of the artist the small gallery had in stock.
Consequently, I met the artist and that was the beginning of a long association with the man, the artist, the Hellene from Crete, who painted memorable paintings for me for over fifteen years.
ATHENS PAINTED 1996
Greek art proved to be a great collecting specialization for twenty years when prices of Greek art climbed steadily and with that the value of my stock. My stories about Greek art in general and Contemporary Greek art in particular in the 1990s and 2000s have spoken of the significant rewards that came my way, but at the back of my mind was also the worry of
‘No boom lasts forever!’
This worry was justifiable as the economy in Greece was steadily deteriorating. By the end of 2009 the bells of something seriously wrong were ringing loud and clear; within two years the nation’s solvency depended on injections of funds from Europe. It is well known that the art of a nation follows closely that nation’s fortunes so needless to say that the buoyant prices of Greek art became a distant memory after 2010. The investments made during the years of 2000-2005 lost much of their polish and a reasonable valuation at the moment is about 50% lower than the auction prices of those years. You may well ask what will happen in the future to Greek art, to the Greek art I have invested in and the contemporary Greek artists I have invested in? Will these artists stand the test of time?
It may appear that I am in trouble at the wrong time of my life, but fortunately that is not the case because:
• I owe very little money on the total of my investments.
• I know that art does not go off; it actually appreciates with time.
• The art I invested in will always be popular.
• Forty percent of my stock belongs to artists from various other parts of the world.
The future of the contemporary artists I have invested in can be found in the auctions that took place in the years between 2000 and 2009.
A collection seemingly under a cloud?
THE PARTHENON, PAINTED 1998
Vasilis Zenetzis’ work sold first time for £1800 at Sotheby’s in 1998 and had climbed to £4200 by 2004. During those years about forty paintings sold at auction with around another hundred sold privately over the years. With such a solid auction record and sales behind him and the continued popularity of impressionist art things can only get better once the Greek art market picks up again. Views of Athens with her ancient monuments are always desirable as art sales show. Unique canvases painted during the Olympics of 2004 should appreciate substantially in the future.
When investing in art I always tried to look ahead at least ten years and adhere to the following basic fundamentals:
• Do I like the art I invest in and can I live with this art for a long time?
• Can I afford to buy the art and keep it for the long term?
• Does it represent value for money at the time of purchase and what are the chances of appreciation?
Once the above important questions have been taken into account then any investments in art become an issue of quality of life. I love stepping out of the everyday, mundane world into the space of my art world. I am immersed in that world, lost in my birthplace and its history of thousands of years. There is no exaggeration when I describe how I feel about art that speaks to my heart. It sings to me of the country that gave birth to modern civilization and of which I am very proud: Athens with The Parthenon and The Acropolis, Vouliagmeni, Sounion, Corfu, Santorini, Petra tou Romiou, Nicosia, Kyrenia, Cyprus. Any time I turn my eyes on these canvases I am there. I feel the warmth and love of my birthplace. I live in all these fantastic places simultaneously while happily residing in London. This is quality of life and that I have in abundance in these magnificent paintings of Greece and Cyprus. I am unlikely to part with some of these paintings till my last breath and that I will not regret.
The question challenging me now is one of strategy and way forward.
MONASTIRAKI PAINTED 2004
“Should I invest more in Greek art now that it has dropped to reasonable levels?”
Art investors are astute and many of them like myself will be looking for bargains in the Greek market or indeed any other market with similar problems. Such is the transparency and internationality in today’s art market that traders and art collectors are willing to buy art anywhere as long as the quality is there and the price is right. As a result both international and national art have increased in value and demand has never been higher. Will I be able to invest on the dip in a good artist from any country with a proven auction record?
Investing on the dip and diversifying further has to be the way forward. However, I cannot conclude this part of my story without referring to some of the other contemporary artists in the collection.
THE FUTURE LOOKS BETTER NOW
MAHERAS MONASTERY, PAINTED 1993 AND KYRENIA HARBOUR PAINTED 1972
The Greek market seems to be coming back to reasonable levels as auctions of last couple of years point out. It is not out of the woods yet but the signs are positive and the shrewd investors know when to dare and invest again. Zenetzis art is popular as it is very good quality impressionism, attractive and speaks to the heart not only of Greeks but the millions of tourists who visit Greece. The future looks rosy for those who have a good eye to see the art, the prospects and possess patience.