Ask The Experts
The Solo Arte Gallery in Co Waterford recognises how difficult it can be for new collectors to invest in the art market; an interest in art is not a guarantee of wise spending.
Solo Arte is run by Pat and Claire Keegan. The couple offers investors an 'art bond', a guarantee of a return of up to 20% on their spending after a period of three years. "We are able to offer this kind of deal partly by buying ten or more works by an established artist" says Pat Keegan. "That way, we can get a painting and pass that saving on to our customers.
"But the value of a work by an established artist is likely to increase by between 5-10% per annum anyway, so it will always be a sound investment.
"We don't offer a return of 20% on everything we sell, of course. The Art Bond is an agreement we enter into with certain clients when we source artworks for them; if the artist is someone who is not previously known to them, it's reassuring for them to know that we will either buy back the work at a price 20% more than what they paid for it, or we will trade it for another work of that value."
Investing in artwork is practical for many reasons, not just because of the potential return. "Many people invest in property abroad, and then find themselves having to bear the costs of visiting and maintaining it. But an artwork is maintenance-free; you can hang a painting anywhere, and you can bring it anywhere, under your arm if necessary. If you buy wisely, you can sell the work on for a profit; but many people find they want to hang on to it anyway. Artworks are often treasured heirlooms.
"Many business people do not realise that if they buy an artwork and display it in an office, for instance, they can, for tax purposes, write off 12.5% of its value each year against wear and tear. The wear and tear on an artwork bought to enhance an office or workspace is treated the same as capital expenditure on machinery."
Solo Arte represents established artists such as Pauline Bewick, and Kenneth Webb, whose works sells for between €3,000 and €60,000. But they also deal with many younger artists.
"Two I would particularly recommend are Martin Finnin and Declan O'Connor," says Keegan. " You could get one of Martin's watercolours for around €1,500 to €2,000, while his oils now fetch around €18,000 or €20,000. An oil on board by Declan, meanwhile, might cost between €1,200 and €3,500."