High-end contemporary art is on the rise, there is no doubt about it. Artprice, a website and research tool stated a steady increase of 3.2% from year to year, but we are seeing soaring prices in many of the hottest contemporary artists. Basquiat, Haring, Warhol, Twombly and the like. The question is: Is now the time to sell? I often see people wait too long, whether it be greed or the belief that all things just continue to increase in value. Greed might be a harsh word, but sometimes people just refuse to take the win for fear that they’ll miss out on a larger windfall should the trend continue. However, I usually meet these people when it’s the other way around. The waited, missed the spike and now are waiting for something to return that may never come.
Contemporary art is general described as works produced in the latter half of the 20th Century through today. It’s fairly broad in genre and medium as it may refer to a painting, a sculpture, photography, an installation or visual art. The exact starting point of the genre is widely debated but for this article let’s say the late 1960s forward. Right at the end of modern art or modernism. Have I lost you? Okay good. What I really want to tell you, is that it’s in. The Millennials, Gen X’ers and investors are flocking to the genre. In fact, investors have been treating these works like financial instruments.
An untitled work by Jean Michel Basquiat realized, hold-on…$110.5 Million at auction last May and a Cy Twobly found a buyer at over $8.4 Million in October. The untitled Basquiat had last changed hands for $19,000 in 1984. Now that’s a great investment! Just like Google or Apple stock, wow. Stuff of legend, but trust me, it’s out there. Your parents might have gone to an art show in Chicago in the 1960s, had a glass of wine and bought one of these special works. Now it sits in the basement, garage or attic. I know what you Arizona folks are saying, “what’s a basement?” I tease out of love. Anyway, have a look at that art or better yet, call an expert. You never know what treasures might be lurking in your home, subdivision or next yard sale stop. There are several, if not over a hundred artists, in this genre that realize over $100,000 at auction and most are not household names. I learn “new” artists everyday and no one can know them all. It takes time and research and if you are a nerd like me it’s the best part of my job. Then, when you find one, it gets crazier. I’ll save that for another story, or novella.