Author Archive: Robert Bell

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.

Three basic summer fashion tips for women

The fashion industry is a huge business. After all, Europe’s richest man made most of his money from this sector. However, it is also something that continuously evolve, with innovative trends emerging season after season. This summer, expect new or reinvented fashion styles to hit magazines and shopping malls.

Summer is not only the best time of the year to have the most breathtaking outdoor adventures and island getaways with your friends. It’s also the season when you can express your style and be confidently fashionable. However, finding the right clothes to wear does not only mean expertly choosing the perfect color and outfit combinations. In this sunny season, comfort should always come first.

Image source: huffingtonpost.com

 

So what should you keep in mind before organizing your summer wardrobe? These basic summer fashion tips for women will give you the most relaxed and carefree sunny days you’ll ever have.

  1. Always go natural.

Did you know that synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon trap more heat than natural ones like cotton and linen?

Natural fibers are more breathable than other common synthetic materials. Plus, cottons and linens absorb sweat and dry faster, getting rid of that sweaty and sticky feeling all day.

In addition, synthetic fibers allow bacteria from our skin to readily grow and could cause body odor.

Image source: bulacemagazine.com

  1. Ditch the backpack and go for a tote.

If you’re just going out for a short road trip, travel light. Having a backpack stuck to you back will not only make you sweat from the effort of carrying a huge bag but it’s also another layer away from the cool summer breeze.

Summer is all about the fresh and sunlit vibe, so don’t let a backpack ruin that. A tote or a crossbody will always be a smarter and more fashionable choice.

Image source: styledinparadise.com

  1. It’s time to buy that cotton scarf.

A cotton scarf is made of natural fabrics. It doesn’t only absorb heat, it can also help you manage your hair – in style. There are different  ways to wear summer scarves and each can match any outfit that you have planned for the day.

One final trick is to soak parts of the fabric in cold water before you put it whether around your neck or to tie your hair up for an extra cooling effect.

Image source: coastalshorecreations.com

Art of freedom: Self-published authors who made millions

Being an author entails hard work and intense dedication. Before becoming successful, they often need to deal with several challenges and break barriers. From submitting their work to their editor alone, for example, they need to write tens to hundreds of thousands of words and mold it into an interesting story. During the entire process, they are faced with pitfalls such as writer’s block and diminished productivity.

When they do finish their work, it still isn’t guaranteed that they’ll be making money off of it. Their fate is literally dependent on whether or not the public will view it favorably. However, despite the countless trials, some authors were able to make a name for themselves and millions of dollars in the process. More interestingly, a few of them were self-published and didn’t rely on the help of any major publishing house!

 

 

Image source: startupremarkable.com

 

One name in this category which will continually pop up is Amanda Hocking. She is one of the first authors who was able to make millions by self-publishing and independently selling e-books. Some of her most famous works include the ‘My Blood Approves’ series and the ‘Trylle’ trilogy.

 

Image source: austindailyherald.com

 

Another impressive self-published author goes by the name of Hugh Howey. Before writing dystopian sci-fi trilogies, he was creating short stories. After adding more content to his masterpieces, he then decided to publish them through Kindle’s Direct Publishing system. He became a huge hit and rose in popularity.

 

Image source: salon.com  

 

Many might not know but E.L James herself was a self-published author, with her ‘50 Shades of Grey’ novels reaching the top of many best-seller lists. The trilogy actually started as a fan fic of Twilight which was published online. One thing led to another, and a whole new world of eroticism was born.

 

Image source: nbcnews.com

 

Today’s age of e-books and self-publishing platforms (such as CreateSpace, Lulu, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing) has made it possible for almost anyone to become an author without the need for a traditional publisher or literary agent. It might require heavy promotional efforts but rewards (especially on the financial side) can be potentially lucrative (as authors tend to get higher cut on each work sold as compared to royalties they earn from a conventional publishing setup).

REPOST: Pigcasso: The pig creating art that sells for thousands

Can animals really make masterpieces? This pig certainly can and her works may even soon be featured in a Paris or New York art gallery. ITV has the full story:

 

A pig that was saved from a slaughterhouse now spends her days creating artworks that sell for up to $2,000 (£1,600).

Aptly named Pigcasso after her namesake Picasso, she started painting in October last year.

She now has her own art gallery, with art collectors describing her pieces as “abstract”.

 

Pigcasso spends her time on the South African farm creating artwork. Credit: APTN

 

The sow was brought to the South African animal sanctuary where she now lives when she was a piglet.

The manager of the sanctuary Joanne Lefson, who rescued Pigcasso, says she first noticed the sow’s talent when she placed some balls and paintbrushes in her pen to play with.

“It wasn’t long before I discovered that she really liked the bristles and the paintbrush for some reason. And it was just a case of nurturing that talent,” she said.

The artwork, some of which now hangs in Pigcasso’s very own art gallery on the farm, has sold for prices ranging from $280 to $2,000.

The funds raised from art sales go towards the South African Farm Sanctuary, a haven for rescued farm animals.

Continue reading HERE.

Beyond aesthetics: Art as an alternative investment

Most investments available to regular investors today are usually paper assets—representations of ownership of an asset, such as a stock, bond, or money market account. They generate portfolio income, but their value or prices can fluctuate drastically depending on market conditions. They are in direct contrast to hard assets, which contain actual value in the nature of the item itself. They include precious metals (particularly gold and silver), diamonds, oil, real estate, and even artworks!

 

Image source: wfu.edu

 

Monetizing art is often considered an alternative investment. It is very illiquid and to some extent, risky. However, it can be a great investment option for people willing to put their money aside long-term.  Artworks, especially those created by established artists, are highly valuable. Their prices generally increase by age, but some can instantly be priced at the higher end of the spectrum if they were created by a famous personality. In some cases, valuable artworks (in all forms) may be found right in the attic: an antique wardrobe, pre-war photographs, a decades-old Chinese vase, or a painting bought many years ago and whose creator is now popular.

 

Image source: christies.com

 

Works of art’s prices are highly unpredictable. While they may generally increase over time, there is no guarantee that they could outperform stock indexes, for example. Most sales are conducted through private dealers and auctions are the most popular venues, attended only by people with the highest interest for such niche items. The best prices are given to those that were created by top artists—which include those that were virtually unknown while they were still alive but suddenly received considerable attention posthumous. Every work of art is unique, which means that it can create both opportunities and hazards for investors.

 

Image source: pablopicasso.org

 

Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to diversify one’s portfolio. A mixture of paper assets, currencies, real estate, and alternative investments can help one take advantage of the vast potential of these types of assets. As for works of art, however, investors should start with a genuine appreciation of the objects first before deciding to turn them into a platform to make money.

 

To get a professional advice regarding alternative investments, or if you wish to know more about investing as a whole, I recommend talking to an advisor at LOM Financial.

Art and business: Design as a key value differentiator

From website interfaces and company logos to digital graphics and magazine covers, design plays a crucial role in magnifying what a brand truly represents.  It is way beyond aesthetics or graphical outputs. In many cases, design is at the core of the business itself. Some companies grew tremendously just because of a small tweak in their logo; others managed to gain long-term success because of a major overhaul in their creative department. In the business world, a powerful design concept often converts to great profits

 

Image source: pocketdesign.com.au

 

We are at a point in time when visuals have become one of the most important aspects of promoting a brand. Design startups have grown to exponential levels and companies are striving for market superiority through ground-breaking business emblems, graphics, and other creative components of marketing. This is the age when art and design have become ‘capital assets,’ and some of today’s best design houses continue on redefining and revolutionizing standards while keeping product and service quality top-notch. Unsurprisingly, they have become very attractive to investors and investment companies, too.

 

The top design schools

Some of today’s best designers attended formal training and underwent professional mentorship. The likes of Stefan Sagmeister, Michael H. Riley, and Thomas Heatherwick received their design education from what are considered to be the most prestigious design institutions in the world.   According to QS World University Ranking, the top design schools include the Royal College of Art in London, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab in Cambridge, and the Pratt Institute in New York. A diploma in any of these schools almost guarantees a beautiful career and a handsome paycheck.

 

Image source: rca.ac.uk

 

Design’s economic value

It is very difficult to measure how much impact a particular design can have on a specific product, service, campaign, or the company as a whole. It is something that cannot be expressed in numbers. However, the most innovative companies are also usually the leaders in design. Others who refuse to do the same (because it is something that cannot be clearly tied to high ROI) may fall behind. According to a study, design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by 219 percent over past 10 years. Such companies include Airbnb, Apple, and Starbucks.

 

Image source: sinndesignproject.eu

 

Improved customer experience

Companies investing heavily in design are most likely to provide the most powerful customer experiences. The idea is to get customers’ attention, increase their engagement in a particular product or service, and motivate them to keep coming back. The ‘right’ design can help the business attain a clear understanding of the various ways that consumers engage with their brand—from brochures and TV advertisements to websites and social media. In other words, those that foster creativity may enjoy greater market share.

Image source: fatcow.com

 

Especially in this day and age of high consumption of digital products, design sits at the core of incredible brand experiences. Many companies are discovering that integrating great design into the business model and operations can significantly boost loyalty among customers, which can ultimately translate into desirable business results.

 

What You Need To Know About Passive Income Investment

One of the best ways in dealing with investment is to get a passive income out of it. But before you dive in to this matter, it is better if you’re more prepared, as you consider things such as your security, the profit you’re about to get and the last but not the least, liquidity.

 

Picking the right passive investment income has certain advantages, but you have to make sure that your money would be safe and that passive incomethe income you will be getting out of it would be stable. It is given that there would be changes in the growth of your money but it is all normal because it would depend on the economic status of your country, market condition and the like. But despite of all those changes, getting a passive investment income would assure you that your money is there and it won’t go anywhere that would cost you losses. This kind of investment is so far your best bet in the world of investing.

 

It is given that to profit from an investment is among the goal of an investor. When it comes to this matter, the higher the profit is the best possible thing to consider with passive income investment. But it is not always about gaining profit because your focus as an investor should be more on risk management.

 

This kind of investment also has a lot to do with liquidity. It is the process of withdrawing the money and profit that you have gained from your investment. But it is not just about that because this also involves how smooth the investment has been going before you could withdraw it.

 

You can have a passive investment income through funds coming from business, stocks and even properties in real estate. Allow me to break it down for you.

 

Expecting a passive income when you invest in any business is one of the wisest decisions you will make. There’s a little catch on it and it’s the fact that you might have to put a little (to a lot) work on it if you really want it to grow. Most people who chose to invest in a passive income potentialbusiness even decided to be really hands on with it. The trick to get a passive income from this type is to choosing the kind of business wisely. Make sure that it is already well established that getting your investment’s worth out of it is like getting royalties when you’re a famous musician or a TV star.

 

It may sound a little unrealistic for some, but it’s totally possible and doable. This is the part where getting a financial manager would help you speed up the process, as to what kind of business should you put your money into. If you don’t have the time to research for those types of businesses, then that’s what your manager could do for you. Stay tuned for more articles about investment because I’m here to deliver you a lot of things that would open your mind in this industry.

 

The Art Market in the Eyes of Day Trader

I trade a lot in the stock market and I’d like to think I have the stomach to face the usual risks involved in trading equities.  I’m actually more of a day trader, a momentum trader at that.  At the opening bell, I would already be on the lookout for any steep movements in price. If I find one that has gone up with significant volume in the first two hours of trading, that’s my target.  Feeling the momentum, fingers on the mouse, I try to buy at the right time, ideally at a price retracement point.  And then once it goes up a few fluctuations, I’m out. All in a day’s work.

But the market hasn’t been so friendly these past months. It’s actually a wreck right now.  We’re waiting for Santa Claus to bring in a rally.  I guess, he’s our only hope now because the Federal Reserve is just as desperate as us traders.


And so, I’m thinking, maybe it is possible for the art market to rally. Maybe I can make some money there.  That’s the news that has been going around since 2014.  The new money in China, plus all those museums in the Middle East are queueing up their bids. And it makes sense. At a time when forex traders are getting whipsawed and we seem to be at risk of a full blown currency war, when the sovereign bond bubble is just about ready to burst, with gold and oil in a downtrend, and with real estate prices in limbo, you have to find other options.  Where else can you put your money?  Some put their money in art.

But the art market had always seemed intimidating for me. I appreciate art but I don’t claim to be an expert. I’ve considered investing in art many times. But as I’ve said, I get intimidated time and time again.  The art market is so opaque.  It’s unlike the stock market where anyone can see all the prices as they move by the second.  At the same time, art is a long-term hold so it doesn’t match my day trading set of skills.

What’s attracting me to art investing right now though is the possibility of an art market bubble in the making.  Maybe I can bet at least five percent of my portfolio on that right now.  I would lump together gold and real estate with art investments.

Why am I optimistic about an art bubble? During times of economic uncertainty, when investors are fearful with their currencies and worried about the stocks and bonds they hold, art and jewelry tend to appreciate in value.   The US Federal Reserve “saved” the world from forex tradereconomic catastrophe seven years ago when it bailed out the big banks and absorbed a lot of their subprime mortgage exposures.  But the Fed seems to be running out of tricks now. Near zero interest rates and a ballooning federal credit card have made the chances of the US saving the world’s economies this time around is a little bit slimmer.

Also favoring higher art valuations are the political and social uncertainties we are experiencing globally right now. Refugees streaming across Europe. Terrorists in Paris. Russia striking at ISIS. Turkey striking at Russia.  Putin hating on Obama.  Obama, well, he’s at an In-N-Out Burger right now, practicing his official statement on all those things. Some are even crying out World War III!  I don’t know if it’s going to be World War III.  But just in case, I think I’ll do better with a painting than a paper bill if ever that pushes through.

And so, intimidating as it may seem, I think I’ll take the plunge and invest in some art.  Lots of research and advice-seeking will hopefully guide me in the right direction.  So many questions right now.  How much of my portfolio should I allocate to my art investments? Which art advisor should I go to? What works of art should I focus on?  Which artistic period? Which artist?  Which painting?

Unlike buying equities, there is no balance sheet to analyze.  There are no ratios to help me compare one work against another.  No profit and loss statements, no cash flow reports here.  No history of stock or cash dividends.  No annual reports or SEC filings. It’s a different animal.

But just like equities, there is risk, there is a holding period, there is a bid and ask and there are taxes involved.  And you also need guts.  And a bit of luck.

I might have a chance at this.

Investing in Art? Here Is some Advice…

Art is a form of expression. It communicates the emotions of the one who created it.  But for some people who buy a piece of art, the primary consideration is oftentimes investment value and returns. Art has become an asset class that not only gives enjoyment but also provides a chance for the owner to reap some capital gains.

Current circumstances surrounding the global economy – primarily the influx of cash that has resulted from quantitative easing in the US and Europe, as well as the rise of the wealthy class in China and in certain Middle Eastern countries – have resulted in a significant art investmentincrease in art sales over the past three years.

Market uncertainties in the western economies have also pushed fund managers to look to the art world as a way for them to diversify their portfolios.  Art now serves as a hedge against certain black swan events and possible declines in currencies, equities or fixed instruments.

With the possibility of a bubble in the art market, investors now have an opportunity to ride with the trend of rising art prices.

Here are some pointers on how to go about investing in art:

  1. Determine how much you are willing to invest. Just the same way you would treat an investment in fixed income or in equities, you have to decide on how much of your portfolio will be allocated to art.  Art is highly illiquid so once you sink your funds into it there’s no turning back. At least not for a long time. Some funds allocate five to twenty percent of their portfolio in art.

 

  1. Get help from a reputable advisor. You can go to established museums and galleries that can refer you to art consultants.  A well-connected advisor can give you sound advice about trends and pricing. An art advisor has inside information about what sells, whether fine art investmenta piece of art is undervalued or overpriced, or which is more likely to hold its value over time.  Since works of art are luxury items, the prices can at times merely reflect the buyers’ whims.  And, because there are just a few sellers or buyers in the art market, prices can also be subject to wild swings.

 

  1. Find out which artist’s period has the best prospects for value appreciation. In the past few years, post-World War II artists have attracted a significant amount of buyer interest.  The money that is currently flowing into the art market comes from the new rich and they are attracted to the relatively new works of art that were created only within the past seventy years.

 

  1. Get to know the artist’s life and accomplishments. When was he born? When did he die? Who trained him?  Who else did he work with? Who are his contemporaries? Where did he study? Which museums or galleries hold his works?  What awards or honors has he received? Who are the other collectors who own his works?  What is his life story?  All these considerations affect the value of an art work.

An art investor also needs to be aware of certain characteristics of the art market before he decides to  invest.

  1. Art is illiquid and to be considered as a long-term investment. For this reason, you should also buy something you would be happy to live with and see hanging on your wall for a long time.  It would be nice if you have an emotional connection with the art you buy.

 

  1. Art is a luxury item. As such, it can be affected by people’s subjectivity.

 

  1. Art is cyclical. It moves in the same way fashion trends do.  Art trends come and go and then resurface again.  If you are a value investor, you might consider buying something that was once in the spotlight but has gone out of favor for a while. That way, you have a bigger upside in terms of your investment’s growth potential.

 

  1. Art can be used as a store of value or a hedge against financial market declines. The average prices of art works were plotted against the S&P and they seem to follow the same trend.  However, during times when the stock market plummets, art values have remained relatively intact.  Of course, this goes hand in hand with art’s other characteristic of illiquidity.  Together with antiques and jewelry, the price of certain works art would go up even more when the market for financial instruments sees a decline in value.