Art as a Store of Value

Over the course of history, collectors have viewed art as not only a source personal pride and object of beauty, but a reliable store of value.

Art Investment as a Store of Value

It may seem that the concept of art as an investment or an alternative asset is a new phenomenon, but the reality is quite the opposite. Individuals, families, and businesses have recognised the benefits of art as an investment, such as its low correlation to traditional assets, for centuries, and amassed great wealth in the process.

Commissioning Wealth: The Medicis

The Medicis, the Italian banking family and political dynasty that ruled Florence from the early 1500s, are arguably the ultimate example of how wealth in one field can be harnessed to provide sponsorship for artists. Their commissions allowed artists such as Donatello, Botticelli, and Michelangelo, to concentrate on their work free from day-to-day worry. Their farsightedness helped foster the Renaissance and endowed the Medicis and, in time, the world with breath-taking art.

More importantly, the Medicis demonstrated art was a shrewd investment. An investment in the artist but also in their own family, building equity that demonstrated their culture and contribution to society. Over time, it also proved a store of financial value: inflation adjusted and with appreciation, their wealth would stand at around $129 billion. A competitor for Jeff Bezos.

Image: Botticelli, Birth of Venus

American Collectors & Modern Fortunes

More recently, the names of several leading 20th Century American collectors may ring bells, not least as many were giants of industry. In the build-up to the Second World War, American midwestern ‘oil baron’, J. Paul Getty, took advantage of art prices dropping and collected European paintings en masse. When he died, he left most of his estate to the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust, the trust that runs the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles with assets, including the art, now valued at around $10 billion. 

David Rockefeller was another major collector. His mother helped found New York’s Museum of Modern Art and her artistic interests rubbed off on him. Throughout his lifetime, his art investments totalled 15,000 works of art, donating paintings by Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin and Matisse to the Museum. In 2007, he sold a painting by Mark Rothko at Sotheby’s in New York for almost $73 million. He had bought it in 1959 for $10,000. 

Image: Rockefeller Rothko

Contemporary French Titans

Art as a store of value is not solely a thing of the past, as apparent in the collections of some of the leading businessmen who have turned to investing in art. François Pinault, the founder and head of the Kering Group, has created a luxury good behemoth and a personal fortune of €40 billion euros, which has allowed him to devote much attention to contemporary art. A personal collection of works spearheaded by Post-War and Contemporary art luminaries like Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jackson Pollock is housed in his personal temples to his collection of over 10,000 works by almost 400 artists: a reimagined Bourse de Commerce in Paris, and the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice.

Pinault’s endeavours are rivalled by Bernard Arnaud, CEO of LVMH, who elevated his love of art with the inauguration of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a $135 million Frank Gehry–designed museum in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne. With a collection that spans the 20th and 21st centuries, exhibitions have brought together celebrated artists from Claude Monet and Joan Mitchell to Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Image: Fondation Louis Vuitton

Undoubtedly, like the Medicis, these five examples of buying, collecting, and gifting art to be enjoyed by others is a potent demonstration of success and of taste; their art investments providing a constant dividend of cachet and, as auction performances show, significant financial return.

Art as a Store of Value Now

The social, cultural, and monetary currency of art has created a dynamic commercial environment where collectors not only buy and hold, but also buy and trade. In 2021, the total value of transactions in the global art market amounted to just over $65 billion1. In 2022, new records were set for the most expensive Post-War & Contemporary work of art at auction – Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn for $195 million – and most expensive single owner sale – over $1.6 billion for the Paul G. Allen Collection. The market continues to flourish.

Indeed, the sale of the Paul G. Allen Collection best illustrates what all the collectors listed above knew when it comes to art as an investment: it’s a powerful alternative asset and store of value. Of the works that Allen had previously purchased at auction, and were resold in the November 2022 sale, the average appreciation was 315.5%2.

  1. UBS & Art Basel Art Market Report 2022
  2. as calculated based off the 51 works that sold at Christie’s Paul G. Allen Sale, November 2022

Ready to get started?

Register as an investor now to explore our art investment opportunities.

Sign Up
Any other questions?
Contact us.
Sign Up

Contact Us

Please fill out the form below to get in touch with us, and we'll contact you as soon as possible.

Your message has been successfully sent.
We will get back to you shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.