Tag Archive: Works of art

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

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.