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Searching for Light No.12, by Wang Xiao Bo. Credit: AFG
Elevate your art collection with insights from Jeremy Kasler, one of Hong Kong’s foremost art brokers.
Art has long been a symbol of our collective culture, humanity and creativity. It’s also one of the most opaque industries in the world to navigate due to closed-door purchases and a labyrinth of professional networks spanning auction houses, fairs and galleries. For those who aspire to collect art as investment, gaining million-dollar returns without some expert guidance is an unlikely prospective.
That’s where Jeremy Kasler, CEO of Art Futures Group comes in. The Hong Kong-based investment broker focuses on helping customers build a portfolio of Chinese contemporary art. We caught up with Kasler to learn how to start or build a lucrative art collection:
Trust the Data
Jeremy Kasler: “Perhaps the biggest misconceptions about investing in art is that you have to be mega wealthy to do it. That was probably the case 15 or 20 years ago, but if you’re passionate about it and prepared to dedicate yourself to it by visiting galleries and relying on trustworthy companies, you don’t have to spend millions of dollars to start your very own art portfolio. Passion is a more important currency than money itself.”
“Getting into investing can be daunting at first. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find tons of discussion or websites relating to art investment but very few companies that can provide practical advice. But not all offer actual practical advice – and that’s’ exactly what you need. Do your research and find platforms that can truly assist you in understanding what you’re buying, and give you firm reasons as to why a certain artwork is a good investment and provides data to prove it. Be wary of anyone saying ‘this is a good investment’ without really explaining why.”
Jeremy Kasler of Art Futures Group. Credit: AFG
Analyse the Art
JK: “It’s easy to fall in love with an artwork – that should certainly be one of the main drives when you’re looking to invest – but what’s also important is to look at the facts. How has previous activity in the auction market been for the artist you’re thinking of buying? Has he or she had a steady growth over the years? What are his or her credentials?”
“Once you decide to invest, the first thing you should do is look at the provenance of the artwork. You have to be able to have a track record of its history, as that’s one essential way to secure it will grow in value in the years to come.”
Do Your Homework
“Hong Kong has become such an international art hub. We have world-class galleries that are completely free to visit, major art fairs, and a strong art community. Invest the time to explore them, and make the most of it.”
Sinking & Floating No.1, by emerging artist Wang Xiaobo. Credit: AFG
Find Your Niche
JK: “Art is such a wide sector, so I would suggest thinking about which subset you would mostly enjoy collecting when you’re ready to start your portfolio. It could be Chinese contemporary art, photography, sculpture... Focus on what speaks to you. Also, always choose an original artwork over a print. I would say that if you’re ready to invest, you should buy the best you can afford. [An] original artwork is most certainly the best option.”
“If you’re into contemporary Chinese art, you might like emerging artists such as Wang Xiaobo, who has dedicated much of his works to reflecting on human psyche through figurative representation of his subjects, and Xia Hang, who creates dynamic sculptures inspired by the toys and cartoons of his childhood, including the Transformers franchise.”
Xia Hang’s Memory Tree is made from stainless steel. Credit: AFG
JK: “One main question you should ask yourself is: ‘How am I going to store the art’? In Hong Kong especially, where flats can be on the smaller side, you have to think about what you’re buying and where you’ll put it. If it’s in your apartment, make sure the conditions are right. Ideally, though, a storage facility would be best. Or consider leasing it. Don’t underestimate logistics.”
“Trust your instincts. Art is not a science – there’s no right or wrong. Consider all the conditions, and if they fall into place, go for it.”