When does art become investment?
Another auction record was made in the art world recently: a 1972 painting by British artist David Hockney, “Portrait Of An Artist (Pool With Two Figures) fetched US$90 million, making it the most expensive work of a living artist ever sold at an auction.
David Hockney revealed that he sold the painting through his dealer in 1972 for US$20,000. At age 81, he continues to paint and create new works, but “Portrait Of An Artist (Pool With Two Figures)” has been regarded as his masterpiece.
When a painting is first created, it is pure art; it is an expression of an idea or feeling or thought of the artist. The artist does not create the painting to be an investment product. But once the painting is sold, with a momentary value attached to it, the painting is no longer just art. The painting becomes an investment too, even if the buyer did not buy with making money in mind.
The first sale creates the investment market for the painting. While most paintings may never see any change in their investment value, there are paintings that record wild increases in their value. The investment market for the painting may never end, even when the painting is hanging in a museum.
This is perhaps the beauty of art – buying a painting makes you rich; richness in the spirit when admiring the painting, richness in the wallet when making a good sale.