The Real Value of Investing in Timeless Artwork for Your home


A work by French artist Paul Gauguin became the most expensive piece of art ever sold when it changed hands for $300 million (£197 million) earlier this year. The piece, entitled Nafea Faa Ipoipo (or When Will You Marry?) was painted in 1892 and was sold by a Swiss collector. It’s one of a series of paintings in the last five to ten years commanding price tags approaching £100 million.

While these figures might not be commonplace, it does beg the question: should you purchase artwork for your home as an investment?

Big returns, tough to predict

Take another example beyond those headline-grabbing figures for classic works of art. The Telegraph reported how Peter Doig’s painting The Architect’s Home in the Ravine sold for £7.7 million, around a decade after it had been bought at auction for £314,650. Such returns on equities, bonds or even properties during that period would be unheard of. It’s clear, therefore, that the right investment at the right time can be extremely lucrative.

The difficulty comes in finding those investment gems. Any would-be buyer in the art market needs to accept that they are dealing in an unpredictable field. Factors such as taste and fashion are a lot tougher to forecast than some of the economic indicators that inform other financial investments. Art is often seen as a purchase that requires your heart to rule your head but, if you’re to get real value from art, your head does also need to have a say – with research into trends, prices and good artists.

Originals only

Clearly, it’s important not to be caught out when purchasing art. You are only really going to get the best value returns by purchasing original pieces. The rarer the better, as with any other commodity. Avoid reproductions, even high-quality prints known as giclée. These may look the part but won’t have the future income potential of the real deal.

Costs and income

Not every case follows the Peter Doig example above, either. With most art, investment needs to be seen as something for the long term. Unlike investments such as equities and bonds, it does not produce an income until the moment you sell it on.

That too is not the most straightforward of processes. It can be hard to sell on your art when you want to realise its potential and just as tough to know when the right moment is to put it up for auction. Purchase and resale fees can be 25% or more, while the cost of storing and insuring your art needs to be taken into consideration since any deterioration in condition can impact upon your investment potential.

Added value

One thing you shouldn’t overlook is the added value you get from actually owning the artwork itself. Yes, you may not take an ‘income’ from the piece while you own it, but you will get the joy of seeing it and this is why experts advise you to ensure your heart gets a say in your purchase.

Purchasing a timeless piece of art can complement the sorts of luxury wallpapers and accessories featured on the How To Spend It site and help to make the most of your home’s potential. Imagine, too, the effect on a potential buyer of seeing your art on display. Clearly you’ll take this with you but it does no harm to dress your home up in all of its splendour to help it to sell.

Timeless artwork, therefore, can bring a great deal of enjoyment to the design of your home as well as being a sound investment in its own right. It’s no good thinking it’ll be easy – and you wouldn’t want this to be the sole investment in your portfolio – but if you get it right then you can benefit from rich rewards and beauty from art.