Latest Posts

The evolution of art and its value to society

The creation of art has been observed in many cultures and even from the prehistoric times, it has served many purposes from a means to communicate belief systems, to expression of ideas about humanity’s day to day struggles. Aside from being a testament of the human experience, it has also served as valuable documents, proving insight, inspiration and wealth to those who possess them.

Let’s take a look at the history of art from the antiquities to the modern times and understand the special role that they played in many civilizations.

Art in Prehistoric Times

Image source: thetimes.co.uk

Life was hard for the hunter-gatherers during the prehistoric times (30,000-10,000 BC) but it was a crucial moment for humans to finally evolve from their abstract thinking to discovering and creating art.

The main purpose of the early humans’ art forms was for mere expression and description of their day-to-day life as hunters and gatherers. Cave paintings for instance, often show impressions of food and wild animals.

Art in the Middle Ages

Image source: historiska.se

The dawn of the 1st Century marked the age of early-Christian Art. Most art works were created to honor and praise the divine and the Bible. Catacombs were adorned with the most magnificent patterns; portable arts were now present and the construction of churches home to mosaics.

Religious writings and immortalizing the Word of God in books also started the artistic process of printing and book-making.

Art in the Renaissance

Image source: mentalfloss.com

The 15th century was the golden age for Italian art in Florence and it started a whole new trade to the recognition of the economic and monetary value of the works of art. Wealthy and powerful families began spending and commissioning artists to create sculptures and paintings to ‘beautify’ the Republic.

Art in the Modern Age

Image source: greatmuseums.org

The birth of impressionism transformed the art scene into something contemporary – and for the traditional artists, unrecognizable. It was the rise of experimentation and extreme individuality which eventually triggered new art movements, styles and schools.

The boom in the art scene also contributed to the rise in enthusiasts who are willing to spend over billions just to own a masterpiece. In fact, investing in art as a tangible asset has become one of the ways to diversify one’s portfolio.

 

REPOST: Fine Art Can Be A Fine Investment

The investment world offers a wide range of assets in which investors can potentially grow their money. But beyond the stock and bond markets, their are other alternative assets that may provide higher returns over the long term. And they include fine art. Read the following article on Investopedia for more information:

The painting you bought to match your sofa may increase in worth, or it may be as salable as your kid’s pasta-filled craft project.

As with any investment, you need to do your research and go beyond your comfort zone. The art market is fickle, and there are no guarantees of profitability, but with a little legwork and forethought you can fill your home with images that may prove worthy investments down the line. Consider these tips for choosing fine art and identifying the Michelangelo from the macaroni.

Original Ideas: Paintings and Giclées
You walk into a gallery and fall in love with a $5,000 painting, but you just can’t justify the price tag. The gallery owner shows you a selection of the same artist’s work for a humble $500, explaining that the pieces are giclées. A giclée is a machine-made print, a reproduction printed on fine paper or canvas with color and clarity that can rival the original. But it’s still a copy.

The rarity of a work of art is what gives it value, so an original will always be worth more than a reproduction. While a giclée may come labeled with superlatives like “museum quality” or “archival”, and the seller may hawk a certificate of authenticity, it will never be as valuable as an original. Some artists and appraisers even view giclées as a gimmick for novice artists and neophyte collectors.

Still, there’s no denying that a giclée puts fine art within reach for many art enthusiasts, and while a certificate doesn’t lend much value to the reproduction, a fresh signature and especially a remarque (an original drawing made by the artist in the margin of the giclée) could bump up future value.

You may hear stories of giclées being proudly exhibited at such noble institutions as the BritishMuseum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the pieces held in these collections are limited edition Iris prints of digital images or digital manipulations – such as “Nest and Trees” by Kiki Smith at the Met. They are not reproductions of original paintings. Museums do, however, sell giclée versions of masterpieces to generate income. These giclées, though pleasing to your eye and soul, won’t pull in any future income for you.

Doing the Loupe de Loupe: Prints and Posters
Maxfield Parrish and Courier & Ives brought art into the homes of America at the turn of the century with their mass-produced prints. These images are the predecessors of the posters sold in malls and museum shops today. Posters, like giclées, give you access to a masterpiece, but a poster is not the same as a fine art print, which can be in the form of a hand-pulled silkscreen, lithograph or block print.

You can often distinguish an artist print from a poster with the naked eye, though in some cases you may need a loupe or magnifying glass. The process of offset printing leaves a tiny dot matrix on the paper – think of a comic book or a Roy Lichtenstein painting with its exaggerated dots of color.

Several factors determine the value of an artist’s print: the size of the edition, that is, the number of prints the artist makes of one work; the significance of the work; the condition of the print; and whether it is signed and numbered by the artist. In the market for prints, it is rarity that bestows value. A low run of limited edition prints is more valuable than a mass-produced image. Even an earlier pull of a print – say No.10 of 100 (rather than No 80 of 100) – can mean better value.

Continue reading HERE.

Sleeper hits: Low-budget films that broke box office records

What really defines a good movie? Is it the complexity of the plot? Is it the amount of technical effort put into each frame? While everyone has different answers to these questions, many can agree that great filmmaking does not only require a generous amount of financial capital. While having enough funding is important, many have proven that small-budget films can also win the crowd and bring home massive ticket sales. Let’s take a look at some of the best low-budget films that broke the budget norm and won back an enormous return on investment (ROI):

Paranormal Activity (Budget: $15K Box Office: $193M)

This low-budget suspense thriller directed by Oren Peli was actually shot at his own house for just seven filming days, working under a $15K fund.
The creators of Paranormal Activity won the box office without spending a single penny on advertisements and promotions. Instead, the disturbing handheld camera horror movie gathered a following via word of mouth.
The success of the first movie fueled the production of four more sequels, taking home a combined gross income of $805 million as of 2014.

The Blair Witch Project (Budget: $60K Box Office: $248M)

Another spooky handheld camera film captured the attention of scary movie fans and curious viewers around the world. With a $60K budget (reports estimate less), it became a worldwide blockbuster hit and was able to pull in $248M.
The film seemed very realistic and it was able to convince many viewers that the footage was actually real until creators and actors revealed themselves to the public after its huge success.

Friday the 13th (Budget: $500k Box Office: $59M)

The reputation of this movie has gained it an international following and its fandom endures even after years since it was first released in the 80s. However, not everyone knows that the production cost of Friday the 13th was only $500k.
The story revolves around a group of camp counselors who attempted to open an old summer camp that was once the site of drowning accident. The horror started when an unknown attacker began stalking and murdering them one by one.

REPOST: What Are Alternative Investments And What Can They Offer?

Diversification is one of the most crucial elements in investing. Building a portfolio that includes alternative investments, such as art, may be risky but it can also be very profitable in the long term. To know more, read this article on MSN:

Many alternative investments carry high minimum investments and are rather complex if you don’t understand them well. | © (Jamie Grill/Getty Images)

 

If you’ve got any sort of portfolio, you know what stocks and bonds are.

Those two asset classes dominate the typical retail investor’s portfolio, but alternative investments – non-traditional investments that tend not to be correlated to the performance of stocks and bonds – aren’t given much of a thought.

Perhaps they should be.

Here’s a look at the alternative investments landscape, what it offers, and some specific types of investments that, if nothing else, are certainly more interesting than Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) stock and municipal bonds.

Hedge funds. Hedge funds are the most encompassing type of alternative investments. Investors pool their funds together and a manager deploys their capital in an effort to achieve “alpha,” or a return that beats a certain benchmark.

When you bring up alternative investments, the first thing many financial professionals think of is hedge funds, which themselves often invest in other non-correlated, non-traditional assets.

Still, hedge funds have a few defining characteristics of their own.

“Most alternatives tend to be illiquid, so if you’re looking for liquidity they’re not the right tool for you,” says George Sullivan, global head of alternative investment solutions for State Street. “Hedge funds have liquidity dates that are monthly, as opposed to mutual funds which would be daily.”

Many also require extremely high minimum investments, making them impossible for the average investor to afford. In fact, you’ve got to be an accredited investor, which means you have to meet stringent requirements like making $200,000 for two straight years (and believing you’ll do so again this year) or having a net worth of $1 million – excluding your primary residence.

Here’s a look at some of the more interesting alternative investments – some of which hedge funds themselves will invest in – that are actually accessible to the average investor.

Music royalties. RoyaltyExchange.com is an auction website that connects buyers and sellers in (mostly) the music royalties industry. Artists looking to raise some quick cash can take to the website to sell their future royalties. Specifics vary from auction to auction, but investors can then get paid every time a certain song or portfolio of songs is played on the radio, streamed, or heard on TV.

Recent performance rights to “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth sold for $102,000 on Royalty Exchange. The song’s trailing 12 months earnings were $11,372. That’s on the expensive end for Royalty Exchange, whose last 30 auctions went for a median price of $29,750.

So what makes music royalties an interesting alternative investment opportunity?

“Royalties actually offer a good degree of yield,” says Antony Bruno, director of communications at Royalty Exchange. “If you buy at the right price you can get yields far greater than what you can get from bonds or savings accounts or other types of investments.”

Bruno also credits the consistency (quarterly payments), stability (older assets reach a “plateau level” of earnings you can generally rely on), and royalties’ divergence from broader market returns as reasons to invest.

“Stock market crashes? That doesn’t affect anything – you still get paid your royalties. There’s really no connection between the two. Having an uncorrelated asset that’s both consistent, stable, and has a high yield – you put all that together and you’ve got a pretty powerful opportunity,” Bruno says.

Cryptocurrencies. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, odds are you’ve heard of bitcoin. While bitcoin is certainly the most popular cryptocurrency, it’s far from the only one.

The recent raging bull market in this asset class has brought it to the front pages of many financial publications, and for good reason: aside from its potential as a seamless payment method, it also holds promise in fields like law and health care, where the blockchain can be used to permanently log contracts and medical records.

“Alternative assets by definition have less liquidity than traditional assets, but they also offer massive upsides if you can sacrifice short-term flexibility,” says Zach Hamilton, managing partner of General Crypto, a long-only hedge fund that only invests in cryptographically secured assets. “Cryptocurrencies are extremely liquid, negating most of this downside.”

Hamilton adds, “Several studies have been done, including our own internal analysis that show cryptocurrencies are uncorrelated with the general market, including commodities like oil and gold.”

Real estate. While real estate can certainly correlate with the broader economy, it’s still been a remarkable investment opportunity over the long-term. For many Americans, real estate ends up being the largest single investment they ever make when they buy their primary residence.

Of course, there are ways to invest in real estate aside from literally buying houses. One of the more popular and accessible ways to do this is through real estate investment trusts.

“I like REITs because they give us an opportunity to invest in real estate without having the hassles of being a landlord or financing a project,” says Tom Vilord, president and CEO of Wall Street Value, an investor education company, and WSV Capital, a hedge fund.

Like stocks, REITs are publicly traded, and due to their tax structure, they’re legally required to pay 90 percent of their earnings back to their investors, which means they’re known for their extremely high yields.

Exact yields vary, but REITs often fall between 5 and 10 percent, and sometimes yield even more. Another great thing about REITs is you can get granular when it comes to the type of properties you’re investing in. Options include single-family homes, commercial real estate, health care facilities and other opportunities.

Other options, and a word of caution. There are still more interesting and potentially lucrative alternative investments that share some typical (and attractive) characteristics like not being correlated with the stock market and an ability to give portfolios a measure of diversity.

Peer-to-peer loans, private equity, art, luxury cars and other collectibles are additional options for investors looking to mix things up a little bit.

However, to insinuate that alternatives are all upside and no downside is, of course, misleading and untrue.

“They tend to be private in their structure as opposed to public, they’re generally illiquid and aren’t as regulated as more traditional investments,” Sullivan says.

Before turning to alternative investments, for instance, you should likely make sure you have a nice traditional portfolio of stocks and bonds (or funds that hold them) first. This is a very broad asset class that’s far more opaque than the stock market; stocks are still clear winners when it comes to average historical returns.

Aside from their traditional illiquidity, many alternative investments carry high minimum investments and are rather complex instruments that could leave you holding the bag if you don’t understand them well. There are plenty of exciting and unique ones to be sure – but then again excitement can’t buy you a retirement home in the Bahamas.

Be wise, and consult a financial advisor before taking a serious plunge.

Weirdest personal collections that broke world records

The world is a very interesting place and everyone has their own definition of both the wonderful and the bizarre sides of it. In fact, some make sure that whichever draws the center of their fascination deserves a rightful recognition—how? By nurturing their habit of collecting a particular item that represents what fascinates them, such as designer bags, rock band memorabilia, coins, artworks, and even postage stamps! For the investor who seeks to diversify his portfolio to another level, such passion collections can also become highly profitable alternative investments in the future.

For the more bizarre side of things, let’s take a look at some of the weirdest personal collections around the world and what urges their collectors to amass large and record-breaking quantities of these unique items.

 

  1. Airline Barf Bags

Image source: www.officiallyamazing.tv

This weird collection by Niek Vermeulen started as a friendly bet that resulted to a massive accumulation of over 6,000 airline sick-bags collected from 1,142 different airlines. Vermeulen is from the Netherlands but he is world-famous for this bizarre passion, earning him a Guinness world record.

 

  1. Fossilized feces

Image source: news-press.com

From August 2016, George Frandsen holds the world record for the most number of fossilized poop samples (scientifically known as coprolite). In October, he lent his collection of fossilized feces from eight different countries to the South Florida Museum. The highlight of the year-long exhibition was a 4 pound, 3.5 ounce turd from a prehistoric crocodile named “Precious”.

 

 

  1. “Do not disturb” door signs

Image source: difundir.org

Collecting souvenirs is common for most people who often travel around the world. Some of the items that are a must-haves for these holidaymakers are key chains, t-shirts, fridge magnets, etc. But have you ever heard of anyone going home from a trip with a “Do Not Disturb” sign as a priced memento? For Rainer Weichert, collecting door signs is both a hobby and a passion, securing him a world record for his 11,570 keepsakes (as of 2014) from cruise ships, airplanes, and hotels in almost two hundred countries around the world.

REPOST: This new virtual reality tool could transform how we design cars

The car manufacturing industry is undergoing a major overhaul. With evolving market demands and the advent of new design technologies, carmakers are now capable of creating unique concept vehicles quite more easily. Symourpowell has developed an amazing software wherein people can freely conceptualize their designs within a short amount of time. Here’s an article from CNN to know more about this groundbreaking technology:

Google opened a new world of VR possibilities when it introduced the 3D painting app Tilt Brush in 2016. Targeting the worlds of art and design (Google recently launched its own artist in residence program), the software has shown what can happen when creativity is let loose in a virtual environment.

Now, London-based design studio Seymourpowell is hoping to do the same in the automobile sector with a new 3D sketching tool. Wearing an HTC Vive headset, users are able to draw, manipulate and augment car models in virtual reality.

The software is designed to speed up the design process, with adjustments quicker to make than if modeled in Photoshop or in traditional 3D-imaging programs.

Streamlining the process

Seymourpowell’s lead automotive designer, Richard Seale, hopes the tool will bridge the longstanding divide between designers (who are paid to shoot for the stars) and engineers (who are meant to keep them grounded).

“As an engineer, it’s very frustrating to (produce) cars with designers, because designers and engineers are typically at loggerheads,” he said at the firm’s south London studio. “It’s the same for designers, (who say) ‘I want to do this — why can’t I?'”

The typical design process begins with a meeting — or three — followed by concept sketches. Once a design is approved, a clay model is created. After that, a costlier model is used to further refine the design.

Continue reading HERE.

The unexpected impact of great public art spaces on tourism

Image source: millenniumparkfoundation.org

 

We all have different ideas of what makes a tourist destination unique and unforgettable. Oftentimes, people travel to see places that they’ve never seen before while some want to experience a way of life outside of their own.

The place and its culture, the sights and experiences, two of the most typical reasons why we pack our bags and take that once-in-a-lifetime trip but do you know that there’s a more interesting way to explore and travel the world?

 

Image source: compassbrazil.com

 

Public art, unlike its ancient and popular counterparts has captured the interest of millions of audience through its unique way to interact and converse with the viewing public. Unlike the typical art destinations housed in museums, it can provide an experience that transcends culture and breaks down language barriers so that anyone from any part of the globe can take part and understand their glorious message.

 

Image source: smugmug.com

 

This ability to see through differences have made public art an asset in the tourism industry especially in the modern, globalized world. In fact, aside from its cultural and majestic experience that it offers to anyone willing to observe, public art has contributed to a phenomenal tourism and economic boom in cities and countries everywhere.  For instance, “The Gates” in New York City has delivered of $254 million to the home of the Central Park after attracting over 4 million visitors.  Another example is Oakland’s “The Bay Lights” installation that have brought a $97 million impact on the local economy through in 2015.

REPOST: What is driving the soaring demand for art storage?

Artworks are no longer bought simply as aesthetic additions to enhance homes, but also as investments believed to skyrocket in value in the future. As such, safe and high-quality storage is needed to keep them in pristine condition. Read more on this Apollo Magazine article:

With the number of art galleries increasing at a rapid rate, more collectors entering the field, collectors building substantial holdings, and museums expanding, the demand for fine art storage has increased, too.

Art-storage firms typically offer fireproof buildings, trained security personnel, surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and transport. Crating, shipping, customs, and condition reports are among the other services they offer. Clients can store their artworks either in rooms that accommodate the holdings of other clients, or in private rooms. Viewing spaces where dealers, as well as art advisors, can display the art works they have on offer to clients are also a feature. Private collectors also use viewing spaces on a short-term basis.

‘I think that from 30 to 50 per cent of major collectors use our viewing rooms where they can take their friends to see their other collections,’ says Simon Hornby, president and CEO of New York-based ‘art logistics’ firm Crozier Fine Arts. (The company was founded in SoHo in 1976 and acquired by the information management company Iron Mountain in 2015.)

Before joining Crozier, Hornby served as senior vice president and executive director of Global Risk Partners, an international risk-control and loss-prevention firm specialising in fine art and valuables. Twelve years ago, Hornby was instrumental in the development of the Global Risk Assessment Platform (GRASP), a method by which insurers can evaluate warehouse and museum facilities.

In 2016, Crozier increased its number of storage facilities, adding 250,000 square feet of art-storage space with two new locations in Newark, New Jersey and New Castle, Delaware. Earlier this year, it acquired Cirkers, an art-storage firm in New York, which was founded in 1873. In all, Crozier now controls approximately 750,000 square feet of storage across eight facilities in six locations along the east coast: Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey (where there are two), Connecticut, Delaware, and Southampton. Plus, it has expanded both its Chelsea headquarters and Southampton warehouses. Approximately 40 per cent of its clientele are private collectors, 40 per cent institutions, 10 per cent individual artists and designers, and 10 per cent are art advisors.

The London-based firm Cadogan Tate now offers 13 storage facilities, with four in London, three in New York, three in Los Angeles, and one in each of Miami, Paris, and Nice. Its clients are dealers, collectors, art museums, interior decorators, and auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams. The firm opened its first Miami facility last year and will open its fourth New York storage facility, conveniently located between New York City and the Hamptons, in August. ‘Now, we are currently exploring opportunities for state-of-the-art storage facilities in Chicago and Dallas as well as internationally, in particular Hong Kong,’ Graham Enser, global managing director of fine art at Cadogan Tate, says. ‘With yet more art fairs, galleries and new dealers sprouting up in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, we have seen a growth in customers looking to store pieces destined for art fairs,’ he adds.

Continue reading HERE.

Beyond paintings: Weirdest art items auctioned to private buyers

Art is a wonderful alternative asset class for long-term investment. In fact, it is widely known for producing some of the world’s most expensive items sold at auctions.

When art imitates life, we often find ourselves in the presence of something beautiful and enchanting. However, there are times when art makes its way to mimic and portray the weirdest and the most bizarre aspects of humanity that can either overwhelm the experienced art critic or leave the general public confused.

Nonetheless, many private collectors have chosen to see beauty and uniqueness in the weirdest pieces of art and were willing to spend thousands of dollars to win the most prestigious auctions around the world.

Let’s take a look at some of the weirdest art items auctioned to private buyers:

Merda d’artista

Translated as the Artist’s Shit, this artwork was created in 1961 by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni. The entire presentation consists of 90 4.8×6.5cm tin cans, each filled with 30-gram feces. So where did the artist get his inspiration? According to sources, Manzoni wanted to explore the relationship between art production and human production.

A sale at Sotheby’s in 2008 sold tin 083 for over $122K.

Image source: beachpackagingdesign.com

My Bed

First created in 1998, My Bed was Tracey Emin’s most bizarre artwork that was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. The British artist’s work gained popular attention because of the presences of several peculiar media and materials: bedsheets with bodily secretions, a pair of knickers with menstrual blood stains, and condoms. Emin claims that the artwork was actually “created” when she had not left her bed for several days while contemplating suicide.

Collector Charles Saatchi bought the work for over $180K, installing the artwork in a dedicated room in his own house.

Image source: lwlies.com

Red Mirror

Red Mirror is a work by the German visual artist, Gerhard Richter. Considered as one of the top-selling living artists, Richter set record-price auctions in 2013. One of the items sold was the “Mirror,” and won for a bid of $750,000—and the artwork was in the form of a slightly gradient red paint on a mirror.

Image source: welikeviral.com

 

Balloon Dog (Orange)

While not as bizarre as the rest of this list, this iconic art piece by Jeff Koons created history when it was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for a staggering $58.4 million, easily becoming the most expensive work of art by a living artist sold at auction. The 12-foot stainless steel sculpture was part of Koons’ “Celebration” series in 1994 and has been exhibited in various venues around the world, from the Grand Canal in Venice to the roof terrace of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Image source: kickvick.com

REPOST: $1 billion art week could mark recovery

With major auction houses set to bag over $1 billion in revenues, this week is arguably a critical moment in the fine art market. Based on the following report by CNBC, the “big demand and the biggest prices are in post-war and contemporary art, which are more popular with today’s younger, new rich.”

Source: Christie’s
“Leda and the Swan” by Cy Twombly

The three major auction houses are set to auction off more than $1 billion worth of fine art this week, marking a test of whether collectors can shrug off turmoil in Washington and sagging stock markets.

Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips have an estimated $1.3 billion worth of works on the block this week. That would mark an increase from last May’s sales total of $1.1 billion, but about half the sales totals from the market’s recent peak in 2015.

This week is arguably the most important of the year for the big auction houses and comes at a critical moment in the art market. While prices, confidence and supply rebounded after the presidential election, with solid buying last November and early in the year at art fairs, it remains to be seen whether the uncertainty in Washington and recent softness in stocks could slow the growth.

For their part, the auction companies are optimistic.

“I think the mood is very good,” said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of Christie’s Americas post-war and contemporary art. “Clients are calling on a constant basis wanting to know what’s going on, what’s for sale, they want to see the works.” He added that “for us the driving force is the works. If we have the works, the quality is there and people follow.”

The big demand and the biggest prices are in post-war and contemporary art, which are more popular with today’s younger, new rich.

The star of the week will likely be Jean-Michel Basquiat, the 1980s artist who’s primitive, bold canvases have become favorites of collectors who came of age in the 1980s. Sotheby’s is selling a 6-foot untitled Basquiat from 1982 that’s expected to sell for $60 million, which could be the most expensive piece sold for the week.

Continue reading HERE.