Myth of Art as an Investment

Humanity, by Joseph Ndlovu, 1995, fiber – Constitutional Court of South Africa art collection

You see it daily in the artworld news — how art is your best investment today —

   ……….the best way to protect yourself and keep your money “safe” from the fluctuations of the stock market, or real estate — the endless reports and documents produced by investment advisers about the trends and who is buying what..

But in reality, art is a very poor investment —  no one knows what areas of the art market are going to be popular and profitable in the future — to see what artists are going to be collected — to know what to collect and when to actually sell it.

And art is not liquid – you may have a painting that is appraised for $100,000 — but you have to find someone who wants it, and will pay for it.

If a corporate art collection appreciates in value, that fact might be satisfying to corporate executives, and it is true that art purchased wisely will probably have a much better return when it is sold later.


But the sales of collections that are considered “blue chip” investments, never reach the levels expected to “bail out” a company — In the larger view, the company’s art collection will not get the company out of financial trouble.


The Lehman sales were good examples a few years ago with the auctions at Sotheby’s in New York and Christie’s in London. These sales were expected to raise $12 million for the bank’s creditors — a significant sum, though only a tiny fraction of the $613 billion in debts held by Lehman when it collapsed in September 2008, helping trigger a global financial meltdown.


Vast fortunes have been made – and lost – with art, and usually the gains have come about because of an unexpected surge in popularity of an artist or style that carries the momentum and competition between collectors.

Art has never been and will never be a good “investment”

So why does this myth persist when it obviously is not true?


   The true value of art lies in its ability to transform.

Art has the ability to profoundly change the nature of our living and working environment.  Art has caused revolutions, it has transformed entire societies, it has changed the way people live, work, and think.   It transforms people, companies, societies, beliefs, …………. everything…………

Art moves you,  opens you up,  gives you different ways of viewing the world. We all react both consciously and unconsciously to the world that surrounds us and in which we live and work,

We’ve been ignoring this unique quality of art, while talking about the “safer” benefits of art in the workplace and non-traditional spaces – and  some of these benefits have been recognized  and become universally accepted..

Art has been touted as a benefit to business and in helping to persuade stockholders that it generates additional sales and profitability – that it creates a more pleasant work environment — that it is doing something for the community — that it is helping the image or “brand” of the company. ………..but while these benefits do exist — they are less important than the real impact of art and its ability to transform


The realization of the transformative power of art and creativity has been recognized and is part of a development that has been growing over the last 20 years. Now it has become a veritable avalanche of innovative projects, partnerships, and programs that are helping to transform our relationship with art and our world


Introducing the Corporate Art Briefs

The new Corporate Art Briefs will keep you informed about the most innovative and effecive  art programs in the workplace and other non-traditional spaces – programs that have been changing the way companies are doing business and interacting with their employees and communities.

Corporate Art Briefs are briefing documents that give you an overview and key information about an art collection or art program in the workplace, or non-traditional spaces.


Featured will be such innovative programs as

CERN’s artist in residence programs that are a marriage between art and science. In these ground-breaking programs, artists of all disciplines work as artists in residence at the laboratory, where they can both be inspired by the science and inspire the scientists to make new discoveries. In this way the technology that explores the fundamental secrets of the universe can be a new force for human creativity.

The Constitution Court Art Collection in South Africa demonstrates how art and human rights overlap and reinforce each other. It is this that unites art and justice and according to US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,

The building design expresses high hope for, and abiding faith in a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a soverign state in the family of nations.. The Constitution, Court building and artwork share an animating theme: Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected. The art displayed in the Court is a perfect match for the buildings design. it is the most vibrant collection I have seen in any courthouse in the world”   US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In the fields of healing and health, the positive results and effects of art have been nothing short of astonishing


These types of programs are the subjects of the Corporate Art Briefs —  programs developed through partnerships, and collaborations around the world —  and through these programs,  new ways of living and working are emerging.

Each art brief gives an overview of an art collection or innovative  art program.  Every week on Friday you can look forward to two new Corporate Art Briefs that give you the key information about an  art collection or art program in the workplace, or non-traditional spaces.  Each Brief is 2-3 pages long and provides the most important details about an art collection.

if you would like to join us in this voyage of exploration and discovery of new ways of viewing art and creating art programs subscribe to the Corporate Art Brief.

Subscribe to the Corporate Art Briefs here