Some buy shares, others houses. There are several ways to invest your money and hardly any are infallible. Except perhaps investing in the field of art. When you buy a painting, you secure an asset that can be sold, occasionally at a profit. But the benefit is first and foremost because the work speaks to us personally and emotionally.
According to François Lauzon, owner of Galerie MX, during the 2008 financial crisis, people decided to invest in art as it is perceived as an investment with a tendency to increase in value when well chosen. But on every occasion we must each choose with our heart – that is an essential part of the buyer’s equation. Unlike the stock market where emotion has no place, the purchase of a work of art will generally be a good acquisition, if only because you have enjoyed the canvas in its setting. This opinion is shared by Michael Mensi, former gallery owner and now agent for more than a decade, including six years representing international artists, both institutionally and commercially, all without government subsidies! No wonder the word “passion”continually crops up in his speech. His work takes him to China where he shares with other art lovers his passion for the pictorial work of Dominic Besner. To create exposure for an artist outside his own country is important because it increases market value. This is an aspect of art collection an investor must be aware of by conducting research prior to making a decision. François Lauzon recommends: you must visit galleries, decide on an artist you like, then do your homework by asking gallery consultants questions, consult the curriculum vitae of the painter, attend vernissages to witness the progress of sales, and network with other people who share your tastes.
One may choose to explore the secondary market, the resale of works by great masters or established artists, living or deceased. But this is the “major leagues”, where very large sums are often in play. Michael Mensi draws a parallel with auction houses (like Sotheby’s) and major equityinvestment funds: both weigh heavily in their respective fields and make life more difficult for small investors. That’s why small investors are better off sticking to the primary market, or to painters represented by galleries, the key partners for those who want to secure artistic creations. The gallery can advise the purchaser, in addition to procuring a certificate of authenticity and placing a valuation on the painting. Regardless of the amount available for investment, one can buy a piece of art that delivers enjoyment and represents good value. The difficulty, as pointed out by Michael Mensi, is to quantify the value of the acquisition. But the object of one’s interest must not lie solely in value: if one stops only a few seconds a day in front of a work of art in the home, and the piece evokes an emotion, it is money well spent. François Lauzon confirms that we may very well make our own discoveries provided one performs his research seriously. With even a limited investment, one may acquire a painting that takes on increased value because the reputation of the artist continues to grow. The problem then becomes to convince oneself to let go of the work!
Sylvain Coulombe, Le songeur au pull rouge
Dominic Besner, Les hérauts nobles
Leszek Wyczolkowski, Méditation
François Trottier, Au carré