Things to Remember While Investing in Art

The Indian art market is divided into two segments – Modern and Contemporary. Modern segment comprises of masters like M F Husain, S H Raza, F N Souza, VS Gaitonde, Amrita Sher Gill and more. Contemporary segment is comparatively young, around last 30 years. Alternately, Painters who were born after 1930.

1. Do your own research.

One of the first things to do before buying art is to empower yourself by reading up on art, visiting local art galleries, meeting artists/ collectors and other people who are actively involved in this field. Talk to artists, consultants and curators to get insights about the functioning of the art market and to also network with like-minded people intending to buy art also known as “Collectors”.

There are international auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s which focus on Indian art. Also there are domestic auction houses like Pundoles, Asta guru and Saffron Art. You can contact dealers and galleries. You can also approach an art advisor. You can end up paying a consultant 2-5% fee for expensive works. The service for smaller works may cost 5-15% of the value of the artwork. Fees also depends upon rarity of art work.

Ensure that the dealers and galleries sell genuine/ authentic works. Art market is full with fake artworks, so make sure you do proper research before buying the art. Check few important documents while purchasing art like authenticity guarantee, a provenance certificate, that is the previous owners of the artwork, condition report, publications (if any). Nowadays, many auction houses like Saffronart do not provide authenticity certificate. While buying from the auction houses make sure you understand buyer’s premium and the total cost incurred by (delivery charge, taxes, etc). Usually when you are buying through a dealer, only the seller has to give commission to the dealer and not the buyer. This can also be happen when you buy from a gallery. Again this depends on dealer, gallery and artwork involved.

2. Quality, not quantity.

Invest in fewer pieces that are higher quality. Not all pieces done by a renowned artist are masterpieces. You must take help from experts to recognise a masterpiece. For instance, an oil on canvas is perhaps the most expensive form of painting. Then is an acrylic on canvas, followed by an acrylic on paper. Then would follow watercolor on paper and charcoal on paper.

3. Buy art that you like and understand. Allocate a budget.

Buy art that you like. It is something you may keep for a lifetime, as you don’t know whether you will be able to sell it or not. Unlike other forms of investment such as stocks, it is worth remembering that art has an aesthetic quality that can, and some say should, be appreciated outside of its monetary value. Art is a long term investment. Also, prices of a renowned artist’s works do not necessarily shoot up when he dies. Art should not form more than 5% of your total investments.

4. Maintaining the artwork

Once you buy the art, you also need to incur the maintenance cost like insurance, storage cost. Also you need to take care of the artwork, like art should be stored in an environment that does not get direct sunlight.

5. Investing in emerging artists

Experts say you can look at investing in emerging artists whose works are available from Rs 1 lakh onwards. Though they may be a good option, it is difficult to predict who will make it big in the future. For this, you need to take advice from experts in the field.

6. Prints, limited editions

If you have limited budget, you can also invest in limited edition prints like serigraphy, lithography.

7. Evaluating an artwork.

In west countries, art has a much bigger market. These countries have institutes that value art. In India, we do not have certified institutes that value art. But the artwork can be valued by auction houses and galleries. Of late, even insurance companies are vaulting artworks.

The “Experts” Are Getting Crypto All Wrong

Bitcoin peaked about a month ago, on December 17, at a high of nearly $20,000. As I write, the cryptocurrency is under $11,000… a loss of about 45%. That’s more than $150 billion in lost market cap.

Cue much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth in the crypto-commentariat. It’s neck-and-neck, but I think the “I-told-you-so” crowd has the edge over the “excuse-makers.”

Here’s the thing: Unless you just lost your shirt on bitcoin, this doesn’t matter at all. And chances are, the “experts” you may see in the press aren’t telling you why.

In fact, bitcoin’s crash is wonderful… because it means we can all just stop thinking about cryptocurrencies altogether.

The Death of Bitcoin…

In a year or so, people won’t be talking about bitcoin in the line at the grocery store or on the bus, as they are now. Here’s why.

Bitcoin is the product of justified frustration. Its designer explicitly said the cryptocurrency was a reaction to government abuse of fiat currencies like the dollar or euro. It was supposed to provide an independent, peer-to-peer payment system based on a virtual currency that couldn’t be debased, since there was a finite number of them.

That dream has long since been jettisoned in favor of raw speculation. Ironically, most people care about bitcoin because it seems like an easy way to get more fiat currency! They don’t own it because they want to buy pizzas or gas with it.

Besides being a terrible way to transact electronically – it’s agonizingly slow – bitcoin’s success as a speculative play has made it useless as a currency. Why would anyone spend it if it’s appreciating so fast? Who would accept one when it’s depreciating rapidly?

Bitcoin is also a major source of pollution. It takes 351 kilowatt-hours of electricity just to process one transaction – which also releases 172 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s enough to power one U.S. household for a year. The energy consumed by all bitcoin mining to date could power almost 4 million U.S. households for a year.

Paradoxically, bitcoin’s success as an old-fashioned speculative play – not its envisaged libertarian uses – has attracted government crackdown.

China, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland and France have implemented, or are considering, bans or limitations on bitcoin trading. Several intergovernmental organizations have called for concerted action to rein in the obvious bubble. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which once seemed likely to approve bitcoin-based financial derivatives, now seems hesitant.

And according to Investing.com: “The European Union is implementing stricter rules to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing on virtual currency platforms. It’s also looking into limits on cryptocurrency trading.”

We may see a functional, widely accepted cryptocurrency someday, but it won’t be bitcoin.

… But a Boost for Crypto Assets

Good. Getting over bitcoin allows us to see where the real value of crypto assets lies. Here’s how.

To use the New York subway system, you need tokens. You can’t use them to buy anything else… although you could sell them to someone who wanted to use the subway more than you.

In fact, if subway tokens were in limited supply, a lively market for them might spring up. They might even trade for a lot more than they originally cost. It all depends on how much people want to use the subway.

That, in a nutshell, is the scenario for the most promising “cryptocurrencies” other than bitcoin. They’re not money, they’re tokens – “crypto-tokens,” if you will. They aren’t used as general currency. They are only good within the platform for which they were designed.

If those platforms deliver valuable services, people will want those crypto-tokens, and that will determine their price. In other words, crypto-tokens will have value to the extent that people value the things you can get for them from their associated platform.

That will make them real assets, with intrinsic value – because they can be used to obtain something that people value. That means you can reliably expect a stream of revenue or services from owning such crypto-tokens. Critically, you can measure that stream of future returns against the price of the crypto-token, just as we do when we calculate the price/earnings ratio (P/E) of a stock.

Bitcoin, by contrast, has no intrinsic value. It only has a price – the price set by supply and demand. It can’t produce future streams of revenue, and you can’t measure anything like a P/E ratio for it.

One day it will be worthless because it doesn’t get you anything real.

Ether and Other Crypto Assets Are the Future

The crypto-token ether sure seems like a currency. It’s traded on cryptocurrency exchanges under the code ETH. Its symbol is the Greek uppercase Xi character. It’s mined in a similar (but less energy-intensive) process to bitcoin.

But ether isn’t a currency. Its designers describe it as “a fuel for operating the distributed application platform Ethereum. It is a form of payment made by the clients of the platform to the machines executing the requested operations.”

Ether tokens get you access to one of the world’s most sophisticated distributed computational networks. It’s so promising that big companies are falling all over each other to develop practical, real-world uses for it.

Because most people who trade it don’t really understand or care about its true purpose, the price of ether has bubbled and frothed like bitcoin in recent weeks.

But eventually, ether will revert to a stable price based on the demand for the computational services it can “buy” for people. That price will represent real value that can be priced into the future. There’ll be a futures market for it, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), because everyone will have a way to assess its underlying value over time. Just as we do with stocks.

Minimize Investment Risk by Investing in Hedge Funds

Hedge Funds are a method of alternative investing. It is a form of investment where funds are pooled and invested using different investment strategies to generate profits in a financial partnership between the fund manager and investors.

The fund manager is referred to as the general partner and investors are known as limited partners. The role of the limited partners is the investment of funds and that of the general partner is managing them. The investors are provided a hedge prospectus which provides information regarding key aspects of the fund, such as the fund’s investment strategy, investment type, and leverage limit.

As the name implies, Hedge funds function in a manner to ‘hedge’ or avoid risks. So, we see that the objective of Hedge funds is profit maximization along with risk minimization. They are meant to generate profits irrespective of the fluctuations in the market. They minimize risk by offering the investors to go long or short stocks. Shorting implies making money when the stock drops.

An investment manager manages the funds through a company that is distinct from the hedge fund and its portfolio of assets. The investment manager uses the support of the following service providers:

Prime brokers

They help in clearing the trade, provide leverage and short-term financing.

Administrators

They provide services of operations, accounting, and valuation.

Distributors

They basically deal with distribution of securities. A distributor can be an underwriter, dealer or broker.

Investment strategies adopted can be classified as:

• Discretionary/Qualitative: These are strategies selected by the general partner or fund manager.

• Systematic/Quantitative: These are strategies suggested by a computerized system.

Characteristics of Hedge Funds:

• Available only to accredited investors

Investors need to have a certain net worth before investing in Hedge funds.

• Variety of Investment Options

It can be invested in various areas such as land, real estate, stocks, derivatives, currencies, etc.

• Use leverage

Borrowed money is often used to enhance returns.

• Fee

They charge a management fee and performance fee.

The main benefit of investing in Hedge funds is that the risk is lower than other types of investments. They can be said to be uncorrelated with market indices. However, the fact remains that they are prone to some amount of risk. Hence, it is a good approach to be aware of all the potential risks before investing. It is also essential to select a fund manager who is experienced in the field.