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Follow your heart: buy the painting you like

Originally posted on September, 16, 2007

“Contemporary art has become a gage of trendiness, if not necessarily good taste?” (see: Art or entertainment?.)

Current wisdom dictates that if you are making an investment in contemporary painting you do not buy something that you like. On the contrary, you follow the route that is being followed by investors in the know: you invest in a painter.

  1. First and foremost you never buy a new or recent painting as an investment. You instead buy a new or recent painter.
  2. If you do not have the inclination, time, or money, this is not a problem. This is the specialty of most contemporary art galleries. Their game is finding the right artists and inflating their prices.
  3. Assume that this painter’s name is known by at least 3 people in the second echelon of the art world: maybe a critic for a monthly publication, or the ex-wife of a collector. These people can be helpful when the times come to circulate the painter’s name.
  4. Make sure that your artist has talent or personality. Or in lieu of talent, flash or a new style of painting will substitute.
  5. His personality needs to last at least three years. So deeper character is not important. In three years you will have secured your investment and turned a reasonable profit.
  6. Obtain the services of a good public relation person. For a modest fee this will get your artist’s name into the society- columns and onto semi-society guest lists.
  7. For a little more this person can get exposure for your name to help your investment (i.e., “well known patron of the art…? or “Noted collector…? etc.).
  8. Next, you purchase a one-man/woman show at a good gallery. This may cost you 15,000 to 20,000 € but it is a bargain. It brings you a winner and gives your reputation a big boost at the same time.
  9. Of course you invite critics to this show. Pray that they will like at least two of the paintings.
  10. Subsidize a few friends to buy a few paintings. Nothing will motivate investors to buy than seeing those little red dots.
  11. During this show, find someone with time, money, and patience to take your artist around cocktail parties and teach him some basic manners: Also the typical artist-at-party chit-chat.

This ends your first year investment in art for profit. Your second year will be much easier. You buy another one- man/woman show. The public relations will get him/her a paragraph or two in the art magazine and three or four appearances on TV. The third year is even easier. Your artist has another show, a fist fight in an expensive restaurant and may be an assassination attempt by a deranged woman. Hatching and raising a painter is only for the very rich!

The idea for this sketch/formula came from a photocopied page from a book I made 30 years ago. Unfortunately I did not note the publication or the author’s name. If anyone can enlighten me it would be appreciated.

Moral: the buying of contemporary art can be daunting to the uninitiated.

My advice: buy what you like from someone honest.

Published in french as Suivez votre coeur : achetez la peinture que vous aimez

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