Contemporary art as an investment

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Compared to leading stocks, contemporary art has been a stellar investment over the past four decades, outperforming the benchmark S&P500 by 240% since 1986 (data from LiveArt). But how does its performance stack up against other recent art periods and why has Mintus chosen it as a focus for fractional art investments?

According to the LiveArt Index, all portions of the 20th and 21st Century art markets have performed well since 1986, when they began tracking art sales prices.

Art is of course subjective, highly personal, and generally reflective of the wider societal and demographic trends. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that, compared to post-1900 modern art, works created since 1945 have produced by far the strongest returns; the index for Post-War and Contemporary art has increased 20 fold since 2000 (data from LiveArt).

Contemporary art reflects the latest fashions, connects with a recognisable zeitgeist, and often possesses a “wow factor” that captures collectors minds more than older periods. By definition, it’s newer and fresher to market, and it can attain cult status, making it attractive to investors. This is apparent in the prices, which have increased 35x since 2005 (data from LiveArt).

Just like modern genres of music, trends can have a marked effect on valuations and investment performance right across the market, from galleries and dealers to art fairs and auction houses. Artists exploring new styles, materials, and approaches can grab attention and, particularly in the age of social media, swiftly gain traction and increase demand. When this is reflected in prices paid, it is easy to see how contemporary art tends to trump its more mature competition.  

Which artists are Mintus likely to feature?  

Mintus intends to focus initially on established artists like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, Gerhard Richter and David Hockney, with current valuations of between £1m-£10m. All boast strong market track records and historical value appreciation, with momentum over both the last decade and the last 12 months. Yet their rates of growth vary enormously. Basquiat’s Art Index, for example, has multiplied 458 fold since 1986 (data from LiveArt).  

This kind of historical gain illustrates what is possible with well-known names. However, lesser-known artists can offer more speculative and higher-risk investment opportunities as they become better known. With this in mind, Mintus plans to also offer exposure to emerging artists. Investing in shares of contemporary art through Mintus provides a great opportunity to get exposure to established artist’s markets as well as talented, but lesser-known creators at highly accessible levels of investment.

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