Affordable Art is Getting Trendy 
 (Just Don’t Call it Cheap!)

Aaron Reichet — “Aberham Lincoln”

In times of financial instability, few commodities have kept their value as well as fine art. It’s growing reputation as a likely win for both casual and serious investors is one of the main reasons that the term “affordable art” has become a buzzword.

What is affordable art?

While there is no exact definition, it refers to art that can be purchased by a broader group of collectors than those who usually frequent the big-ticket auctions. At Sotheby’s, for example, some 60 % of the items sold over the past six months went for less than $10 thousand, falling into the category of affordable art. Affordable Art Fairs in New York, Singapore and Seoul feature artworks capped at about $10 or $15 thousand dollars.

Who buys affordable art?

With the increase in popularity of online sales, a more diverse group of people is trying their hand at buying art. Think of them as bridging the gap between elite collectors and people with no involvement in art. Affordable art buyers are curious about art. They are interested in learning more, and they want to grow their collections as they develop their own interests and increase their resources. They may take more risks and tend to edgier pieces.

How do they buy art?

They favor tech tools and newly-minted buying platforms. According to Deloitte, the art markets in Australia and New Zealand are growing, which has led to players coming in to make art accessible and affordable. Art Money, a deferred payment system that helps more people buy art affordably, is one such successful player. At Sotheby’s, affordable art buyers often use the auction house’s apps across several platforms, including Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, iPhone and Android.

Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank recommends buying affordable art

The Canadian businessman, chairman of O’Shares investment and investor on the hit TV show “Shark Tank,’ offered advice for emerging investors on CNBC. He encourages new investors to get creative and to seek out what he calls “unique investments,” such as fine art.

“In addition to wine guy, business guy and grumpy “Shark Tank” guy, I’m also an art guy,” he said.

He went on to say that while spending a lot of money on “just any average Joe’s art show” is not a sure thing, investing wisely could yield good results.

Here are his tips:

  • Become familiar with all different mediums and styles.
  • Always verify authenticity before buying.
  • Remember today’s struggling artist might be tomorrow’s Picasso, so don’t just focus on the “big guys.”

As O’Nealy points out, today’s art market is not just focused on the “big guys.” As affordable art buyers make their imprint known, we will see an increase in reasonably priced offerings and hopefully, profits to match.

By Rayah Levy, Art Market Expert
LinkedIn December 20, 2016: