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“Only Great Works Can Command Value” with Massimiliano Subba, Anthea Art Investments

“Only Great Works Can Command Value” with Massimiliano Subba, Anthea Art Investments
May 14, 2019 Art World Forum
In Articles, Interviews

With growing wealth around the world, art as an asset class, and the need for specialised expertise in the art industry, we catch up with Massimiliano Subba, Managing Partner of Anthea Art Investments, an investment and advisory boutique covering the full market spectrum including Post War & Contemporary art, Impressionist & Modern art and Old Master paintings.

“The art market is vastly populated by “self-proclaimed” art experts who are often unqualified to provide advisory support to art buyers. Buyers should either use qualified advisors or reliable and established companies who are in a position to provide top notch advisory services to collectors, much like Anthea.”

1. Since the establishment of Anthea Art Investments (www.anthea.art) in 2008, how would you define the art market change, today’s investors’ attitude and the portfolio of available Post-War and Contemporary artworks on offer?

The art market has gone through massive growth in recent years. Since Anthea Art Investments was established in 2008, we witnessed two major phenomenon:

  • It was the start of a substantial flow of investment into art. Before 2008, Post War and Contemporary Art auction Evening Sales counted approximately 20 to 30 lots for sale. Nowadays the number has doubled if not tripled, confirming that art investing is considered an effective way to preserve and grow wealth. This granted art the status of “asset class”, much like real estate or gold.
  • Furthermore, before 2008 art collecting was very much a past time of connoisseur, powered by a real passion to enrich life with beauty and passion. During the 90’s and early 2000, people realised the huge potential of art investing and the market grew by welcoming a number of new buyers. The crystallisation of art as an asset class only came in the late 2000s, when investors realised that art played as a safe harbour against market turmoil or political risk.

Nowadays, new and old buyers are scouting the market for great quality works to make good investments or achieve social status. The art world is very exclusive and rather elitist. With an estimated 15% of HNWI wealth kept in the form of art or other collectible investments it comes as no surprise that 60-70% of HNWI and UHNWI are active art buyers.

2. With an availability of alternative investment strategies, platforms, and demonstrable returns on investment, what is the most common misunderstanding faced by collectors in the market? Is all art a good investment?

Today’s collectors are largely drawn by the investment potential of the art market acknowledging the select group of mega rich collectors who are on the hunt for art trophies (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”) and who are ready to put on the table whatever it takes. According to the Artnet Intelligence Report 2018, Post-War and Contemporary Art represent a main market share because of its cultural relevance which allows buyers to connect with the artists and relate to their works.

Still, a number of buyers take a DIY approach when buying art, and because of this they are often caught out in their endeavours. Collectors need proper guidance to make smart acquisitions. The art market is vastly populated by “self-proclaimed” art experts who are often unqualified to provide advisory support to art buyers. Buyers should either use qualified advisors or reliable and established companies who are in a position to provide top notch advisory services to collectors, much like Anthea.

3. Offering customisable and specialised services, including art financing, deaccessions, researches for authenticity and provenance, and the best in class storage through your partnership with the Geneva Free Ports & Warehouses SA, how do you predict the art market will change? What can we expect moving forward?

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If you plan to invest in art, do it right. Work alongside a company which ensures you the highest level of professionalism combined with impeccable standards of corporate governance and accountability. Anthea’s objective is to help collectors effectively manage their art holdings and extract the maximum value through clear strategies, top advisory and a 360-degree service.

4. Firmly acknowledging art as an asset class, amongst private, institutional and corporate collectors, alongside its growing commercial power and affiliations with the tech and entertainment industries, is it easier now to conduct due diligence and trade, or acquire, with ease? Is art financing or buying in instalments a new entry point for collectors?

Financing solutions to buy art still represent a small portion of the market even though new players are entering the market. Pre-acquisition due diligence is always a key point especially when considering works by Modern Art or an Old Master where value can be heavily affected by provenance, authenticity or attribution. To this extent, pricing and valuation is a delicate task requiring a thorough analysis.

The price of an artwork is set by its beauty and quality, elements which makes it unique as supply and availability of great quality works is very limited. Additionally, provenance and ownership plays a huge role. Science and technology definitely helps conduct thorough due diligence processes but making the right investment decision is subject to a much larger number of factors. In today’s market where the best artworks exchange hands for amounts worth millions you should make sure that the price you pay is fully worth it.

5. What are your thoughts on the various platforms promoting fractional ownership?

They are still at an embryonic stage and I doubt they will become a mainstream form of owning art. Similar fractional ownership schemes were introduced in other industries such as real estate but remained as a marginal part of the market.

6. In a previous interview with Happening you quoted “Art investing has moved into a mature stage, which doesn’t mean the market is going to go down, but it also doesn’t mean that everything will go up.” Can you please expand on this?

During the financial crisis, art was perceived as a safe investment. This led a number of new buyers entering the market and as a consequence it grew substantially taking the market to a new dimension. Prices have grown substantially and today’s market has become very sophisticated and demanding. Only great quality works can command value. This means that only top artists and best quality works will keep delivering price growth. As such, keeping options open and exploring the potential of the market, work by work, is of key importance.

7. In an effort to attract new, younger collectors, and accurately inform them of art market antics – the do’s and don’ts – what would your advice be to those attracted by record-breaking sales following social channels and possibly fake news?

Social media communication is still underdeveloped in the art world compared to other industries such as fashion or luxury in general. Some large players in the art world are developing strategies to reach new audiences but as a matter of fact, art collecting is still majorly driven by an off-line, direct relationship as buyers to sellers.