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Art As Investment: Buyer beware

On April 4, 2012, Cardozo School of Law witnessed a confluence of lawyers, art advisers, academics, auctioneers, gallery employees, art and law students eager to learn about trends in the art market and the risks and return of art as investment. Panel entitled Art as Investment was an exciting and well-attended event because it dealt with sensitive and sensational multidisciplinary topics: art history, law, and business.

The panelists included William N. Goetzmann, Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies Yale School of Management; Marc Porter, chairman and president, Christies’s America; and John Silberman, principal John Silberman Associates. Irina Tarsis (Cardozo, 2011) moderated the panel.

Members in the audience shared in a perennial interest in tax consequences for art collectors, and heirs and estates of artists. They learned of new players arriving onto the art market scene ready to drive prices for works from and by Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern artists.

One of the conclusions that could be drawn from the presentations is that economics affect the art market and career making decisions alike, and one thing remains certain, there have always been and will always be affluent individuals who having earned or inherited some wealth invest in contemporary art. They just have to remember that if they do so in hopes of earning a return on their investment, while art is more speculative than fundamental stocks and bonds, there is long term gain in collecting. Art is uncertain, risky, personal, subjective, and provocative. Investing in art, as investing in a legal education, is not a light decision, and with some regularity, consumers of both go through a shift in taste.

Photo by Linda Levit.