Before co-founding CapucinesBoulevard.com, I spent my career investing in small and micro cap value stocks which basically means the smallest and least expensive 5% of all public companies – and despite the fact that these were all well-run enterprises, most investors didn’t pay much attention to them — so, when I went to visit companies to learn more about their operations, many were pleased that someone was actually interested.

Most importantly, by spending the time to get information that other investors were ignoring, I was able to find opportunities that others missed. I believe that like small and micro cap value stocks, Emerging Artists are the greatest investment opportunities that no one has ever heard of.

 

Many people make the mistake of looking at art as something that’s nice to have, but that simply doesn’t meet the qualifications of a necessity. How wrong they are. 

Art happens to be the biggest unregulated, legal economy in the world to the tune of $64B worldwide, in fact, it grew 95% between 2002 and 2006 and, the truth is, as Robert Redford has said, “culture is a solid investment”

 

Make no mistake, art isn’ fluff. We live in an abundant country, and have pretty much taken care of all of our basic needs, and our culture places increasing value on creativity and innovation: the ideas that catch on today are those that represent conceptual leaps – they give us things that we didn’t know we were missing, not things we necessarily needed, but ideas that appeal to our creative natures.

 

Artists begin with an innate advantage in this new economy by their very ability to see and to think differently. And Art is becoming more and more intertwined with our daily lives: we can see it in the examples of corporations buying Contemporary art in order to attract and inspire their employees, and to highlight their brands to the world while giving something back to society — and these companies aren’t cutting back on their art buying despite what’s going on in the economy, because they’ve come to recognize how much the visual really drives our culture, and keeps them top of mind.

 

The other side of this new economy other than the art itself centers around the value of it — art should always be purchased for the joy it brings, but art is also an asset and if it’s bought for pleasure and gives the investment returns for free, what more could anyone ask?

However, when it comes to art, it’s contemporary art that’s in demand because even though people admire the Old Masters, what they want to own are representations of their own culture and time. Contemporary art is more topical and often more interesting and now, it’s becoming more valuable.

 

Art isn’t usually an asset that springs to mind when thinking of investment alternatives, but its long-term performance record argues that it should be.

For the last 50 years, contemporary art has outperformed the S&P 500, which means that someone who bought a portfolio of art would have done better than someone who invested in the stock market over the same time period. The same holds true during every major war of the twentieth century and through the twenty seven recessionary periods since 1875.

 

From an investment standpoint, and most important for Emerging Artists, is the fact that there is no greater advantage to buying more expensive works of art, buyers get the same returns buying artwork that’s never been exhibited or received any citations, as they would buying the work of artists with more notoriety. 

 

There’s truly never been a better time to be an emerging artist. With their power to inspire, and yes, to prosper, the record is quite clear: the VALUE is in work of the emerging artist.

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“Man will begin to recover the moment he takes art as seriously as physics, chemistry or money”   Ernst Levy

 

What’s the best capital gains tax rate for the sale of artwork? There are currently  several arguments being made against reducing the capital gains tax rate on the sale of artwork from the current level of 28% to the 15% rate enjoyed by sellers of real estate, securities and other assets.  Arguments against the reduction center around the view that art is not an asset which plays any real role in economic activity, particularly job creation, and revenue generation.  Nothing could be further from the truth.   

 

When the forces against tax reduction argue that to do so might shift money into art at the expense of more productive activities they fail to appreciate the significant and documented economic impact that art has made and continues to make on everything from job creation, to neighborhood redevelopment to tourism. 

 

Uneven tax policy has also played a role in reducing museum offerings, and hence the public’s access to art as a result of the tax treatment of artists.  Since they are only allowed to write off the cost of materials for donated works instead of the fair market value of the artwork, artists are less inclined to make donations. The negative impact on museums is compounded by the strength of the art market of late, particularly for Contemporary art, all of which reduces museums’ ability to acquire work.

 

Nevertheless, the value of innovation to our society is becoming more and more clear. Businesses that own and display art are perceived as being more innovative, interesting and desirable places to work.  Real estate developers are incorporating art galleries into new condominium towers to entice buyers seeking differentiable living experiences.  In connection with its recent renovation, the Aventura Mall in South Florida now includes a twelve-piece, museum-quality art collection designed to be a destination in a clear indication that creativity is valued and valuable.

 

In the third study conducted by the group Americans for the Arts titled Arts and Economic Prosperity III, data was collected from 116 cities and counties, 35 multi-county regions, and five states. The areas stretched from Walnut Creek, California to Anchorage, Alaska. They found that nationally, the arts generate $166.2 billion in annual economic activity, up 24% over the past five years. That’s greater than the 2006 GDP of either Malaysia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Columbia, Singapore, and the list goes on!  Furthermore, the arts provide 5.7 million jobs and contribute $104.2 billion to household income,and, they produce $30 billion in annual local, state, and federal revenue. 

 

Two specific examples:  In Baltimore City, Maryland, the arts are responsible for $270 million annually, provide 6,500 jobs, and generate $12.6 million in local government revenue.  In a study released in June, 2007, Rochester, New York (Monroe County) calculated that the attendance and sales revenues generated by its arts and cultural organizations were responsible for a total $199 million annual infusion into its economy. 

 

Far from playing a neutral role in this country’s economy, art continues to demonstrate its uniquely productive role as a strong generator of jobs and tax revenue, just as any other important industry. Therefore there really isn’t any defensible rationale for penalizing art investors with an incremental 40% tax bill.

 

 

Capucine Price

http://www.CapucinesBoulevard.com

Email: Support@CapucinesBoulevard.com

January 15, 2008

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is currently quite a frenzy in the U.S. credit markets. Coincidentally, a frenzy of a different sort has overtaken worldwide art markets. The hubbub In the credit market resulted from staggeringly bad decisions to underwrite loans of questionable quality. Demand from investors for these loans was equally detrimental as it was based upon shoddy analysis and a devil-may-care attitude toward risk. Therefore no one should be genuinely surprised by the continuing unfolding of this market’s demise.  And, unfortunately, the damage isn’t confined to that single market; the economics underlying the credit market flows inevitably into the equity market as the narrowing of the loan spigot trickles inexorably down to infect the broader economy. 

 

There is very little reason to expect the stock market to prosper when consumers, who have for many years provided the fuel to our economy, can no longer rely upon refinancings to fund their spending, and are in fact declaring bankruptcy at almost unprecedented rates.  In addition to the pinched consumer, U.S. corporations are also feeling the effects of reduced credit availability, hence the Fed’s recent decision to provide liquidity via the discount window. The fallout is becoming clear in the already apparent slowdown in job growth, and the cycle feeds upon itself. 

 

Only rarely in history has art received the degree of attention that it is currently enjoying. In the contemporary art market, demand has been on a tear with values quadrupling over the past eleven years. Sotheby’s sales of Contemporary art increased from 98 million pounds in 2002 to 343 million just in the first six months of 2007. Annualizing the 2007 figure yields a compound annual growth rate of 47.5% over the five year period. Christie’s has enjoyed similar results with sales in the first half of 2007 up 45% over 2006. Driven by demand from newly created wealth from around the world, buyers continue to turn their eyes toward art as not only an aesthetic pleasure, but a defensible investment as well.  Interest in reliable alternative investments is always heightened when the foundations of the bellwethers become rocky. And if history is a reliable guide, art values will continue to be favorably impacted as credit and equity markets lose some of their luster. 

 

In contrast to those advising adherence to more conventional, widely accepted assets in the face of art’s  seemingly inexorable run and the aforementioned economic tsunami, I would argue that now is the time to go for the non-traditional investments and to look to instruments that over time will, and have, served as true stores of value, i.e. art.

 

 

Capucine Price

http://www.CapucinesBoulevard.com

Email: Support@CapucinesBoulevard.com

January 7, 2008

Copyright 2007 Capucine Price. All rights reserved.

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Assume for a moment that emerging artists are akin to value stocks. LIke any true value stock, the work of emerging artists is often overlooked, and their worth and prospects underestimated. However, just as Warren Buffet will search out quality companies with distinctive attributes, art lovers can unearth emerging artists  whose work is thoughtful, topical and passionately committed to a sense of relevance to modern life. And while the majority of investors fail to perceive value stocks’ improving prospects until after the greatest gains have already been made, the opportunity to discover the value of emerging artists exists now.

 

The art market continues to expand at an unprecedented pace. 2007 marked the first time in history that total worldwide sales for Christie’s and Sotheby’s hit $10 billion. In November, Christie’s posted its second highest total for sales of Post-war and Contemporary art at $325 million, second that is to the $385 million tallied in May. Notably, 93% of the works sold, and a dozen artists set records. Meanwhile, Sotheby’s sold $316 million at its November sale of Contemporary Art, the highest auction total ever posted by the firm. Sotheby’s sold 91% of its lots. 

 

CREATIVITY ENGENDERS CHANGE 

Art is attracting a new breed of buyer. At Sotheby’s June sale of Contemporary Art, over 20% of buyers were participating for the first time. Around the world, young, urban and increasingly affluent professionals are choosing art as an accessible means by which to obtain a hallmark of their culture, while demonstrating their individuality and increasing their wealth.  

The reasons for art’s broadening appeal are varied, but beyond the worldwide expansion of wealth, what’s taking place is a fundamental shift in the understanding that creativity engenders change.  Whether it be municipal or county governments, educators, or art lovers, there is a new respect for the way that art and music inculcate culture, define generations, and influence the lexicon.  When asked to characterize a decade, our responses most often include references to art and music.  Art can and often does provide society with forward momentum. 

 

RELEVANCE RULES

Despite their unquestioned quality and finite inventory, sales results of the Old Masters haven’t kept pace with those of the Contemporary and Modern art markets.  Even Contemporary furniture outsells older fare at sales and auctions. Growth in the value of Modern Art has outstripped every other category of art at auction. According to Art Market Research, prices for Contemporary Art have quadrupled since 1995 while results for Old Masters have significantly underperformed.  For the period between June 2006 and June 2007, Old Masters posted gains of 7.6% vs. 44.3% for Modern Art and 55.3% for Contemporary Art, according to the Hiscox Art Market Research Index.  And Sotheby’s sale of 304 lots during its sale of Old Masters in December, while yielding strong year-over-year results, nontheless pale in comparison to Contemporary Art results.

Two economists at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Jiangping Mei and Michael Moses, have developed one of the most respected art indices. Their work centers around an examination of the auction results of over 11,000 sales transactions.  Interestingly, in research reported in the magazine Registered Rep, they found that in over 4,500 cases it was not the most expensive paintings which provided the most return for investors, but those at the lower end of the pricing scale.

PROFIT POTENTIAL IS GREATEST AMONG EMERGING ARTISTS

As society grows more comfortable with the idea of art as a legitimate investment vehicle, the necessity of appropriately guaging the potential posed by emerging artists versus the few known, hot commodities increases. Emerging artists lack the price premium, and therefore the risk, of the more established, “growth” artists. Notwithstanding his works’ aesthetic appeal, the time to have bought Damien Hirst was when he was relatively unrecognized, or in investment parlance, when there was actually alpha relative to the art market.  

 

Like any other inefficient market, the opportunity exists in the art market to realize outsized gains via active management of a portfolio. When it comes to value investments, the greatest gain is always realized by buying the stock whose price is the furthest below its intrinsic value.  As a group, emerging artists fit squarely in the value camp, with equally strong prospects.  Why assume that a tiny minority of artists, blessed with the impremateur of a small pool of art dealers, would produce the only art worthy of collectors attention and investment?

 

EMERGING ARTISTS CUT OUT THE MIDDLEMEN

A healthy byproduct of the clamor for art has been a movement toward a more direct-to-consumer experience among artists. In the past, an artist would often spend many years selling their work through galleries before gaining entry into the auction world. However, the current market allows many to bypass the high-cost (50% commission) gallery experience altogether as demand for their work pulls them directly to auction.  There’s less of a need for a dealer or gallery owner to telegraph an artists’ worth, as intrinsic value virtually sells itself. As a result, lower commission rates paid by artists, and the ability to view work in an objective context both earlier and less expensively via the auction setting, creates a win-win for the artist and the art lover.