Art Changes with the Times. Apparently so do Collectors.

Aug 18, 2017

The aesthetic value of art is almost impossible to quantify and the emotions that it elicits can be priceless. But what about the actual cost. This is where art finance is helpful. It’s the component of the art market that enables us to know the monetary store of value in a piece of work. This dollar value is important because it gives personal collectors, institutions, and businesses the ability to use art as an asset class and thus a store of wealth.

For years, collectors were mostly buyers of art, rarely selling their works. These collectors built their inventory of work over time and generations. They would often hold onto a growing collection of work, only dispersing it after death.

These collections of work have traditionally been bequeathed to family, and/or institutions such as museums. Drew Watson, Vice President of Art Services Specialist at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management explains that many of today’s younger collectors (broadly speaking generation X and millennials) take a much different approach when engaging in philanthropic activities.

In addition to appreciating the aesthetic value of the work, these younger collectors are more inclined to consider their portfolio of art as a store of value. Watson notes that much of this cohort have grown up and found success in the post-financial crisis era. Because of this, there has been a focus on investing in tangible assets rather than more complex financial instruments. Real estate is an obvious tangible asset, but there has been a growing demand for investment in works of art.

Younger collectors are also more likely to use their collection as collateral that can be borrowed against.

They are far more commercially driven than traditional collectors and see their collections as less static. This means that rather than holding onto the work for a lifetime they’re more comfortable buying and selling individual pieces depending on tastes and market factors.

Watson observes that the biggest difference between collectors over fifty and those under fifty is their approach to philanthropy. He states that when donating art, the older generation thinks more about traditional institutions such as museums and galleries. The younger collectors are more focused on overall causes that they want to make a difference in – seeking out institutions that align with those goals.

Watson highlights many other interesting aspects of art finance and philanthropy. He provides valuable advice on steps to be taken when donating art. In addition, he offers important financial pointers that everyone should consider when building a collection.

Learn more about the philosophical shift in the new generation of art collectors; macro-trends shaping arts institutional landscape; and how collectors are using their art strategically to create impact. Watch Now!


Matt Beasant

Matt Beasant is a self-taught Canadian artist and experienced writer, born and raised in Northwestern Ontario. Represented by established Canadian Galleries, Matt has exhibited at the Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair and the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in 2016. His work is characterized by crisp lines and bold gradients which are applied by hand using many thin layers of paint –...

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