An Insider's Guide To Becoming A Smart Art Investor

Arts

September 21, 2017 | BY Isabel Wong

Talenia Phua Gajardo, founder of The Artling, lets us in on a few secrets...

There's a chance that the painting you bought to match your sofa may increase in value over a time, or it could still be worth next to nothing after sitting in storage for decades. When it comes to investing in art, you are dealing with a fickle market that has no guarantee of profitability, and holding such illiquid assets can often mean that there's a thin chance of quick returns.

But with galleries and online art marketplaces expanding rapidly in recent years, art investment certainly has its charm. We spoke to Talenia Phua Gajardo, the founder of The Artling, about Hong Kong's art market environment and how to make smart investment decisions.

Photo: Courtesy of Talenia Phua Gajardo

Art Investment is certainly very different from just appreciating art. What are the things people who are looking into art investment need to know?

The one thing to bear in mind is that an ROI can never be guaranteed and passion counts for everything. New art buyers should get started by trying to gain an understanding of the art market. While it may seem daunting, there are countless resources that are readily available both online and offline.

Things to take note of are the different parts of the art market. For example, the difference between the primary market and the secondary market; commercial and non-commercial, and emerging artists and established artists. It is vital to know what you are buying and to make informed decisions before starting to make acquisitions. A budget should also be set aside to begin with and one should attend as many gallery and museum shows as possible.

What do you think about the Hong Kong art scene? Is it a promising place for collectors?

With more mega galleries such as David Zwirner setting up his outpost in Hong Kong, collectors are gaining even more access to Western galleries and their presence is an indication of their confidence in the market. The newest addition to the art scene in Hong Kong is H Queen’s, an upcoming space that has been specially designed to house art galleries and exhibitions. M+ and Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s Centre for Heritage and Arts, are also slated to open very soon, adding even more appeal to the scene.

Photo: Courtesy of H Queen's

Any emerging artists in Hong Kong art investors should have on their watch lists?

There are many young/emerging artists to look out for: Stephanie Ho, Sim Chan, Kaliz Lee, Samson Young, Kingsley Ng, Tsang Kin Wah, Adrian Wong, and Nadim Abbas, just to name a few. 

Where should art investors go to find their art in Hong Kong? Or any particular shows art investors shouldn't miss?

Hong Kong has a vibrant art scene, particularly in March when it's art fair season. Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Central and Fine Art Asia are fairs that you should not miss. White Cube, Edouard Malingue Gallery, de Sarthe Gallery, Empty Gallery and all galleries inside Pedder Building are some of my go-tos.

Auction houses like Philips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s will always be good to check out, but non-profit art galleries in Hong Kong are also interesting. For example, Para Site, 100ft Park and Things That Can Happen.

Photo: Courtesy of The Artling

Every form of investment comes with risks. What are the risks of art investment?

The biggest risk is making an art investment that brings you little or no returns, and art investors will have to be comfortable with that risk. It is important to make sure that you truly like what you are acquiring so you are not stuck with a piece that potentially has no value in the secondary market.

Art is not entirely immune to market conditions and like all other investments, the value of art fluctuates with collecting trends and are further influenced by world politics and the global economy.

See also: First Look: 5 Highlights At The Asia Contemporary Art Fair