The art of investing in fine art: From Warhol to Emily Carr with Canadian art specialist Rob Cowley
Once a hobby of the ultra-rich, fine art collecting has become more accessible to private investors, and one expert says it’s best to approach art investing in much the same way you would a stock or bond.
Rob Cowley, Canadian art specialist and president of art auction house Cowley Abbott, told BNN Bloomberg in a Tuesday television interview that art investing is “not dissimilar” to traditional investments.
“You're looking at the artist; who has created the artwork, of course, you're looking at the quality, the quality is very important,” Cowley said.
“(You’re looking at) the period; what the artist is best known for, the subject matter, the condition, and what's in fashion as well, so very much it does reflect the stock market in that way.”
Cowley said that as art investing has become more mainstream, different types of art investors have emerged. He noted that Cowley Abbott serves both private and public collectors, as well as corporate collections.
Cowley said that his firm is responsible for accurately estimating the price of artworks, but often find themselves selling rare works for well above their estimated price.
“We've been selling a major private collection, this will be our third and final season offering it, and 80 per cent of those works have exceeded the high end of expectations, sometimes doubling and tripling their estimates,” he said.
Cowley said his firm specializes in Canadian art, which collectors in Canada historically purchase, however international interest has grown over time. He noted that American actor Steve Martin is an avid collector of Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris.
Click on the video at the top of this article to watch BNN Bloomberg’s full conversation with Rob Cowley.