Contemporary Art Investment: A Few Tips

Art investment is a risky business. Even “insiders” such as auction houses, art dealers and experienced collectors make mistakes and sometimes lose money on what they consider to be ‘investment grade’ art. On the other hand, returns can be very high, making art investment a potentially high return, but risky enterprise.The centre of the art investment market tends to cluster around financial centres such as New York and London and a lot of interest tends to be focused on art that meets the ‘Goldilocks’ principle of being in the middle: not too old that it is considered an antiquity, which often raises issues of heritage, ownership and fakery and not so contemporary that it hasn’t appeared at a major auction house.In this middle ground, there are a number of factors that can help to reduce risk. Artists that have stopped producing (bluntly artists that are dead) are often less risky than those that are alive for the simple reason that the supply of art is well-defined (although not perfectly so because of the possibility of new works coming to light and of forgeries). Researching the track record at auction and establishing provenance including things like history of exhibition and proof of ownership by an expert and establishing marketability (and hence liquidity), all help to reduce risk.However, being in the middle also means that there is a lot of demand, and hence prices can already be high which reduces the potential for future returns. Given this, a number of galleries have another approach to investment art, which is to target the less well-trodden area of established and emerging contemporary artists who haven’t yet established a track record at major auction houses. As with the middle ground of art investment, there is risk, but there are steps that can be taken to help reduce these risks. Different art galleries have different approaches, and whilst none are unique, there are methods that you can learn from and use yourself as part of your own due diligence process.Example criteria that can be applied are restrictions on artists by background (e.g. having to have formal training or studied in a certain ‘school’ of art), had a certain number or type of exhibition (e.g. solo shows or international exhibitions), track record of selling art in some way, some inroads into the secondary market. Other criteria might include using in-house art consultants to review the work to ensure that it of sufficient technical merit and checking on the level of supply of the artist. If you ask about the gallery client list and find out whether it included high-profile private collectors, this will help you to gain a sense of the ‘reality’ behind pricing as the judgment of high-profile collectors tends to reflect the market value of the work. Amongst the various approaches there tends to be a common strand of using techniques to ensure that supply is measured, that art is of a certain quality, that there is some track record of price increases and that there is some form of secondary market. Whether you are buying at auction, through a gallery or in the secondary market asking quetions about the criteria used above will help you judge whether your investment in art is more or less likely to make money.As with any investment, there is no guarantee of appreciation – be it shares, property, fine wine or art. However, a number of studies have shown that art investment compares very favourably to other investment assets over the medium to long-term time period (i.e. 10 years plus) and that art can offer a diversification option in a mixed portfolio. For certain clients, it has the additional advantage of being a very portable investment and being a store of value.There are a number of tips to investing in contemporary art available on the web. Here are my 7 tips to add to the mix:Realise all art investment is risky. Think about this carefully as contemporary art is even riskier -what level of risk you can handle and what you can you do to minimize the risk.Educate yourself as much as possible. Read art magazines, visit exhibits, meet artists (particularly if you are going to buy their work). Galleries will provide biographies of artists – check these to see how many exhibitions they have, who they have sold to and what sort of training that they have had (either formal or informal). Get an idea of what is included in biographies by looking at any other reputable online art gallery.Art markets tend to be illiquid so if you want to sell be prepared that if you take your time and do it the right way (talk to other collectors, the artist, the gallery that you bought it from etc.) you are likely to get a better price.Be prepared to hold art for the long run. Ideally, you should hold contemporary art for at least 5 years.Check out supply levels. The more art that is available, the more demand has to be for the secondary market to be likely to function in your favour if you are looking to sell your art.Only purchase art that you enjoy viewing and buy at least in part for the joy it gives you and your friends and family. Factor this enjoyment into the ‘return’ on your investment. Of course, you want your art to go up in value – but if you like it and it adds value to your life, it helps to offset the risk of holding it.Finally, whilst known names may make you feel that you have a sense of guarantee on investment, if you look back at the history of art it’s often not the case: artists and artistic styles come in and out of fashion. Purchasing works that you enjoy by upcoming artists and watching them grow offers financial upside and is a rewarding experience. Consider as much information as possible and then go with your instincts, particularly if you like a particular piece of artwork.(c) James Grayling and the British Art Gallery, 2011

Four Reasons Why You Need Daily Health Assessments

Daily health assessment helps you take control of your health. While many people believe their health is completely out of their hands, this is far from the case. When a person begins to look at the state of their health and the state of their well-being, they might realize they need to make a change. But without any base of comparison, it can be difficult to see the progress of the changes they do make. In order to ensure that you are watching your health and watching it move in a positive direction, you need to consider daily health assessment and monitoring. Here are four reasons why health monitoring is necessary.Reason 1: You Need to Know Your Health Starting PointWhen you first use a health monitor, you will find out where your health is at right now. Since you might not know how healthy you truly are, it’s always a good idea to begin somewhere and then make changes based on those findings. Plus, when you know where you are beginning, you can track the progress of your health as it moves in a positive direction, hopefully. If you find that the health numbers are moving in a negative direction, then you might need to make more changes or you may want to see your doctor for further guidance. Though you may be nervous to find the current measure of your health and well-being, you need to be armed with this knowledge in order to reach the goal of more perfect health.Reason 2: Health Changes When Your Habits ChangeWith each decision you make, you are impacting your health. From the foods you eat to the exercise you get, your body changes nearly daily. When you are able to use health assessment tools, you can find out which changes are helping your health the most. For example, if you’ve decided to remove meat and animal products from your diet, you can instantly see how this impacts your body now and in the future. In doing so, you can be encouraged to continue eating well and keeping this change in your life. Your body changes on a daily basis, so watching it on a daily basis makes sense and it makes you constantly aware of how everything impacts your body.Reason 3: Finding Disease Early Increases Chances of Restoring HealthFor most people, disease and illness doesn’t happen suddenly, even if it seems to be that way. Instead, diseases tend to creep up in small steps, allowing you the perfect opportunity to make changes before the disease progresses too much. With health monitoring and assessment, you can continue to check in on your health regularly. In doing so, you will be able to notice smaller changes in your health, which can alert you to disease. If you make health adjustments to your diet and the poor numbers are still there, it might be time to seek assistance from a medical professional.Reason 4: Motivate Yourself to Keep Up Healthy HabitsThe best reason for using daily health assessment is that it can help you to stay motivated. While you may want to slide back into old patterns and habits, seeing the numbers change will allow you to notice just how helpful you’re being to your health – or not. In knowing exactly where your health is, you will be able to make changes right now and stick with these changes. Seeing that the numbers aren’t improving as much as you like can alert you to the true benefit of healthy practices. Getting to the gym or cooking dinner at home will be more enticing as you know you’re making a difference in your life.

Online Gambling in the US – What’s Next?

As it stands today, individual states are free to prohibit or practice gambling within their borders while significant regulations and limits are placed on interstate and this activity. In recent years, online gaming has seen harsher regulations. With the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIEGA), it was not explicitly banned but rather it was online financial transactions that were outlawed. This meant that all online financial transactions from gambling service providers were now illegal which resulted in many offshore gambling operators excluding US customers from their services.Existing in this legal grey area, it is no longer a question of if online gambling will enter the US market but when and perhaps how. As recently as this month, three states have legalized online gambling and plan to begin offering bets by the end of this year. Naturally, a gaming firm in Las Vegas known as Ultimate Gaming was the first to offer online poker but for now restricting it to only players in Nevada. New Jersey and Delaware have also legalized online gambling and so far ten other states are considering legalizing it in some form or another.Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association has said that “Unless there is a federal bill passed, we are going to have the greatest expansion of legalized gambling in the United States. I don’t think that’s what anyone intended, but it is what we’re seeing.” This poses a lot of questions and of course concerns for many existing commercial casinos as well as American policy makers. Will legal online gambling mean fewer people in brick and mortar casinos? Will this create a new source of revenue at the state and national level? What about taxes and regulations? An increase in gamblers?Many people including Arnie Wexler, former chairman of New Jersey’s Council On Compulsive Gambling has voiced concern that with all the good this could do to generate income and revenue for individual states there could be problems with an increase in compulsive gambling. There is particular concern regarding social media in the US as some places like Zynga have already begun taking real-money bets.Taking in mind all the questions and concerns, many hotel casinos are already making plans to expand into online gambling to complement their physical casinos. Geoffrey Stewart, general manager of Caesars Online Poker has said “Like any other business, you’re always looking for what is the next distribution channel.”Feel free to share your thoughts… what do you think about the online gambling trends in the US?