When it comes to art, it’s a matter of taste. But even so, some artists are better investments than others.
Each year the AfrAsia Bank South Africa Wealth Report takes a view on the wealth trends across a number of different sectors – from property to classic cars – and rates various investments of passion, such as fine wine, stamps and watches, in terms of how it’s performing in relation to others. Part of this analysis includes an investigation into the fine-art world – what’s selling, what’s fetching the highest prices, what is sought after – locally and internationally.
According to the report, collectables spending in South Africa is up significantly over the past decade – the definition of ‘collectables’ is any luxury item that holds its value reasonably well over time, and art continues to stand its ground and prove its desirability in the luxury sector as a purchase of passion as well as a solid financial investment.
In numbers terms, the global top-end art market is valued at around US$75 billion. African art accounts for around US$1 billion of this, with US$460 million held in South Africa specifically. The majority of prominent art galleries are concentrated in and around the major metropoles – Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Stellenbosch, with the significant dealers being Strauss & Co, Stephan Welz and Aspire Art.
According to AfrAsia’s in-house indices, South African fine art prices have risen by 33% over the past 10 years (in US $ terms). Global fine art prices have risen by 18% over the same period. Irma Stern is currently the most valuable South African artist with her paintings fetching up to US$2.5million (R35million) each, and an average price of around US$350,000 (R5 million) per painting.
A snapshot of the 10 most bankable SA artists for 2019 (in no particular order):
Sydney Kumalo (sculpture)
Anton van Wouw (sculpture)
To offer an idea of the global picture and context – internationally the leading artists (in terms of price) include iconic names likes Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, Cezanne, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Gustav Klimt. Works by these artists normally fetch well over US$100 million (R1.4 billion) each. The ‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo da Vinci and ‘Starry Night’ by Vincent van Gogh are arguably the most valuable paintings in the world. However, neither of them has ever come up for auction – and are considered “priceless”.