“ALL art is immoral,” said Oscar Wilde. He might have added that all art is emotional, including the buying and selling of it. It has become fashionable among economists to study the motivations of art collectors. Now Barclays Bank has generated data that proves that the art market is highly psychological and social.
In a new report entitled “Profit or Pleasure? Exploring the Motivations Behind Treasure Trends”, only a tenth of those questioned said they bought art purely as an investment, whereas 75% cited enjoyment as the key. The study is based on interviews with 2,000 rich people in 17 countries.
Art Basel, a Swiss art fair that is a regular stop for many collectors in June, is certainly about having fun. More than 300 high-end international galleries gather in the otherwise discreet Swiss town for a festive six-day get-together. Collectors, dealers and curators, many of whom look forward to the annual reunion, greet each other with excitement. The sociability of the fair contributes to the aversion that collectors have to going home empty-handed. Jay Smith, an investment advisor at CIBC-Wood Gundy and an important donor of art to museums, admits, “When I don’t buy anything, the fair feels dull. Buying makes you feel connected to what is going on.” To read more from The Economist, click here.