Everything You Need to Know About Buying Fine Art in Asia

Art Investment: Everything You Need to Know About Buying Fine Art in Asia

You might be an experienced art collector or a novice slowly starting your collection. Whichever the case, an appreciation for fine art, such as oil or watercolour paintings, calligraphy or sculpture, and purchasing pieces for your home can be a fulfilling pursuit that requires patience and a sense of curiosity.

While European fine art masters such as Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Van Gogh are renowned the world over, art created closer to home, within the Asian region, has started to also make waves. Discovering art from here can prove to be personally satisfying and can go a long way in supporting the growth of a vibrant local arts scene, and its artists.

The purpose of art

Art has the potential to move, uplift the spirit, keep cultures alive and create a sense of connection. It tells stories of a country’s past, future, its culture and identity, and serves to capture moments in history. For example, local artist Cheong Soo Pieng who painted Singapore during the national building years, perfectly represents kampung life, street vendors and the dramatic changes of these tumultuous decades.

Apart from its aesthetic appeal and cultural and historical value, fine art can also be an investment, as it is a tangible, non-liquid commodity. Works of art from acclaimed artists or those that receive attention and interest, might just appreciate greatly in value over time. However, as art is subjective, what is valuable one day, may vary greatly the next – making the art market a volatile one.

Growing appetite for art and culture in Singapore

According to the 2020 Singapore Cultural Statistics, the attendance at arts and cultural events in Singapore reached an all-time high of 15.6 million in 2019. Visitorship to National Museums and Heritage Institutions also reached record numbers. This shows that more Singaporeans are starting to attend, participate and appreciate art than in preceding years.

Greater financial support and aid by the government has also contributed to this growing interest. Also, as more Singaporeans live abroad, become more cosmopolitan, cultured and sophisticated in their taste, so does their demand for art and in turn, buying and collecting their own art.

Art scene in Asia

In Asia, Hong Kong might have been the poster child for art in the last two decades, with its prominent galleries, auction houses and international art events like the Hong Kong International Art Fair. However, countries across Asia – like South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Singapore – are each coming into their own. They have growing art scenes and ecosystems consisting of museums, educational institutions, galleries and a community of artists – which support the development of fine art.

Recently, globally renowned museums, such as the Guggenheim museum in New York, have also started to exhibit Southeast Asian. The exhibition, “After Darkness: Southeast Asian Art in the Wake of History”, held by the Asia Society in New York in 2017 is one such example.

Singapore is no exception. According to modern visual arts director of Artcommune gallery, Ho Sou Ping, “In the period from 2010 to 2015, prices of some of our Singapore artworks have risen by as much as 300 per cent. Over the past ten years, works by pioneer artists such as Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi and more recently, Georgette Chen, have made good progress both locally and internationally.”

This signals greater international interest in art from this region and a heating up of the arts market here –  making investing in Asian art all the more attractive.

Protecting your art collection

Buying art in Singapore only for investment’s sake may not be a sustainable practice over time. The cost of transactions, storage and maintenance can be hefty and can make it an expensive hobby. For instance, in order to preserve the quality of an art piece, it needs to be kept in a room with the right temperature, humidity and light. Also, if a painting is particularly valuable and famous, the risk of theft might be high – which means you would have to invest in proper security. Another essential component to consider when collecting and protecting art is buying adequate insurance so you can rest assured that your valuable pieces of art are kept safe.

Learn more about Expat Insurance’s fine arts insurance coverage

Whether you’re a seasoned fine art collector or have just started dipping your toes into the art-buying world, insuring these priceless items is advisable. Art can be worth thousands, if not millions of dollars, and can be impossible to replace.

Find out more about how you can safeguard your artwork in Singapore with Expat Insurance’s fine arts insurance coverage. By topping up your home and contents insurance, you will be able to protect your art and keep it within the family for years, if not generations. Have a conversation with our friendly team of insurance advisors to learn more.

Authored By John Ntatsopoulos

CEO

Over the course of his 34 years career, our CEO, John, have worked predominately in the area of insurance and financial services across major APAC…

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