Brushing up the art of making profits

Updated: Feb 1 2006, 05:30am hrs
If you want an investment advice, people usually tell you to invest in stocks, real estate or other fixed deposit schemes. Very few talk about art, whereas collecting art is one of the most unique and enjoyable investments. At present, art is as hot an investment as real estate, due to the vibrant art scene and increasing profile of Indian art in the international market. The returns are as good, if not better, provided one invests in the right artists at the right price.

It is much easier to invest in art; one can invest in small or big amounts, suiting ones investible surplus. Good aesthetics and some business sense that is all that takes to make a smart investment in art.

To start, one should invest in large works of younger artists or buy drawings or small works of established artists that suit small budgets. Here are some options: from Rs 25,000-50,000, buy a work of Pooja Iranna, Mohan Malviya, Apurva Desai, Manish Modi, Mithu Sen, Rahim Mirza, Yati Jaiswal, Satya Sai; Rs 50,000-100,000, buy Nupur Kundu, Kriti Arora, Somenath Maity, Partha Shaw, TM Aziz, Ravi Kumar Kashi, Sanjeev Sonpimpare, Pampa Panwar; Rs 100,000-200,000, Harshvardhana, Jayasri Burman, Prasanta Sahu, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Sujata Bajaj, Veer Munshi, Akhitam Nara-yanan, Manisha Gera Baswani, Nayanaa Kanodia, Hema Upa-dhyay. If one wants to invest in big names, drawings of Anjolie Ela Menon, Akbar Padamsee, Laxma Goud, Vaikuntam, Yusuf Arakkal, Lallu Prasad Shaw, Paritosh Sen, Sakti Burman, etc are the best options.

Buying works of young talented artists is the best way to get good long-term returns. Look for an artist who is represented by a good gallery, has got good reviews, has registered good sales in his first few shows. For short-term returns, go for the works of established artists, which will fetch you a 100% increase in two to three years.

Always keep abreast of trends in the art market. Go through articles on art in newspapers and magazines, surf sites of good galleries and auction houses. The auction results are good indications of the price trends .

Since the art world is not regulated the way equities are, the investor has to be cautious in buying. And to beware of unknown antique/art dealers, prices temporarily inflated by hype or in auctions and fakes floating in the market. One should buy the works from a good gallery or from the artist directly and insist on an authenticity certificate. It would be difficult to sell the work in the absence of its provenance.

If one keeps these few points in mind, one has to be very unlucky to lose money in art. There is only one way your investment will moveupward besides providing you a lifetime of visual delight.

The profile of the art buyer is changing over the years. Earlier, investors were rich industrialists, corporate houses and institutions. Now, apart from NRIs, one comes across many young buyers from the middle-class. From the earlier refrain: We do not understand modern art, to the new generation of art afficinados, the profile of the art buyer is changing.

Is it something to do with news about Husains or Tyeb Mehtas prices reaching a peak at Sothebys or a Christies auction Or, are the aesthetic sensibilities of the younger generation getting more refined I see it as a mix of both and it is indicative of art entering the mainstream, although there is a long way to go. However, the scene is fast-changing and a new buying class is emerging.

The writer is director, Art Alive Gallery, Delhi