Art as an Investment

Weng Fen, Future Project-Beijing, Photography

By Frédéric de Senarclens,  founder of ArtAndOnly, ArtAndCollect and ArtMarketGuru.

Art can often be a stable or rewarding investment, but, buyers should be aware there are no absolute guarantees. The headline grabbing, multimillion dollar deals on big name artists, old and new, are few and far between. Those works may end up on the front page, but the day to day running of the market is far more restrained. The art world is wide, vivid, exciting and divided in a wide array of categories. It is important to keep in mind when talking about the art market there are no “one size fits all”. When it comes to buying, from new artists to the established big names, it’s vital you buy something you love. Unless you are purely buying for investment, any piece you buy should preferably be something you’ll be able to live with in your collection, and in your home.


The pleasure of buying and owning work must come from the work itself, not from any expectation of future riches; art was not made to be an investment.  Buy work that moves you, or that you feel you understand – whether it speaks to your culture or your emotions. However, it is always wise to be pragmatic and exercise caution when buying new art from relatively unknown artist.


In order to make a wise investment in an emerging artist, there are some things to consider. When looking at an artist’s work, look at the artist’s career trajectory. With which museums, galleries and exhibitions has the artist shown, what does their CV show – mainly have they shown internationally or not – and have they shown with other important emerging or established artists? Once you’re convinced of the artist, buy a major work, and don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest in the show just to own a piece. As I heard someone say recently “It should hurt a little bit when you hand over the money”. Also talk to the artist if possible and buy the most important work to the artist available at the time. Committing to a big piece is more likely to show a return if the artist is successful rather than a smaller work.


It is preferable to buy from the primary market especially if you are searching for a piece that perfectly suits your collection, yet it is possible to make excellent deals on the secondary market. However, ensuring a piece retains or increases in value for the secondary value requires guidance. It is always advisable to work with a reputable gallery or dealer who will offer support and transparency. Traditional galleries are a safe way to go, yet new online models, such as our online platform ArtAndOnly, can offer exciting, fast and reliable services; especially in today’s turbulent political and economic climate.


The internet and global art sites have opened up the market like never before. We’re able to discover artists from all over the world, see their work and buy original and exciting pieces all from the confines of our own home. Online sales have also allowed for increased transparency, easy access to information, globalisation of the art markets, fluidity and increased competition between galleries.


At ArtAndOnly we are delighted to have been given exclusive access to the The Guy and Myriam Ullens Foundation complete collection of its important limited editions prints.  The Ullens have been patrons of the arts in China for over thirty years, and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art has been at the hub of the contemporary art world in China since its inception.

Fang Lijun, Plate for Superganbei, Porcelain Plate
Fang Lijun, Plate for Superganbei, Porcelain Plate

In 2013 the Wall Street Journal estimated that the Ullens Collection numbered over one thousand works and individual pieces in the collection have broken sales records. The extensive reach of the collection encompasses works of extraordinary provenance, rarity, interest and skill. The most prominent artists of the Chinese contemporary art scene are represented in the limited editions collection. The quality of reproduction has been tightly controlled for excellence.

YANG Jiechang - The Skull
YANG Jiechang – The Skull

“This is an opportunity for the art collector to obtain a piece of Chinese and artistic history. The Ullens Collection is the leading name in contemporary Chinese collecting. Securing the rights to sell the prints in this extraordinary collection to a global marketplace is an honour for ArtAndOnly and a terrific opportunity for our own collectors. Bringing the editions to ArtAndOnly means the works can be easily viewed and acquired by both existing and new contemporary Chinese arts enthusiasts.”

Huang Yan, Brother and Sister, Photography
Huang Yan, Brother and Sister, Photography

The print and lithograph collection includes works by the following artists: Chen Wenbo, Cui Xiuwen, Fang Lijun, Feng Mengbo, Feng Zhengjie, Han Lei, He An, Hong Hao, Huang Yan, Huang Yongping, Ling Jian, Liu Wei, Liu Xiaodong, Paul McCarthy, Peng Wei, Qiu Zhijie, Rawanchaikul Navin, Rong Rong, Shen Yuan, Sui Jianguo, Wang Guangyi, Wang Ningde, Wang Quingsong, Weng Fen, Yang Fudong, Yang Jiechang, Yang Shaobin, Yang Yong, Yu Youhan, Yue Minjin, Zheng Hao and Zhang Xiaogang. Feng Feng.


Frédéric de Senarclens, founder of ArtAndOnly, ArtAndCollect and ArtMarketGuru
Frédéric de Senarclens, founder of ArtAndOnly, ArtAndCollect and ArtMarketGuru