The Art of Collecting Art

2.5 min read

How does one start an art collection? Acquiring artwork is a long-term commitment, a complex and ever-evolving relationship between the piece and purchaser. It can also be a daunting prospect for a beginner or recent connoisseur. Researching signature, quintessential works of sought-after artists is no easy feat, but a rewarding one, when done properly.

The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, offers guests the opportunity to explore the world of art from a new perspective with an enhanced hotel package aimed at discovering the ‘Art of Collecting Art’.

Enthusiasts are invited to explore the hotel’s artwork in a unique way, by enjoying a private tour of the luxury hotel’s own flourishing art collection, on loan from Opera Gallery, DIFC. MOJEH meets with Opera Gallery representative and Egyptian artist Perry El-Ashmawi, who explains what you should consider when purchasing art.

This life-size aluminium shark at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC is titled Requin by French artist Mauro Corda

This life-size aluminium shark at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC is titled Requin by French artist Mauro Corda

There are two main reasons why people want to invest in art. The first type is people who have a genuine passion for it. They have a passion for art and it becomes a pleasure – a pleasure treasure! You also have people who see artwork as a motivation to gain financial profit. For them it’s a treasure asset, just like luxury cars, jewellery, and diamonds. Art has more value the longer you keep it, and it’s something of a rarity; a pleasured item, which you can show off and talk about.

Women see art less as an investment and more as a pleasure treasure. They are more likely to have an emotional connection with and become attached to the piece. Men are more likely to see it as a business opportunity. Of course, some men can fall in love with a particular piece and appreciate it, but you also have men who are like, ‘Okay, I’d like to buy a piece that I know in 10 years time is going to bring me value and investment.”

I’m a true believer that the emotional satisfaction you get from buying a piece outweighs the financial return. When someone comes to the Opera Gallery and wants to buy an art piece and they say, ‘I’m looking for an investment’, the first thing we advice them is to buy something that they love. This is key, because you can’t put a lot of money into a piece, only to get bored of it down the line. Art is about communicating something that’s very personal, or saying something about society, so you have to be able to relate to it.

If and when you decide to auction a piece later down the line, you can never predict the outcome. Especially with contemporary art, an artist’s popularity fluctuates a lot. People often come to our gallery and say, ‘Okay, you better reassure me that I’m going to make a lot of profit,’ and we just can’t do that. It really depends on the future career path of the artist and where they fit into the market. We always recommend that you just buy what you love.

The biggest factor to an artwork’s value is supply and demand. How popular is the artist? How much do people want his or her work? Buying an original Damien Hirst, for example, at one point peaked. It was insane how much in demand he was around the time he won the Turner Prize. Everyone wanted one of his pieces and then suddenly the price of his work just dropped. But then again, you find that some of his reproduction prints continue to go up in value, showing that you don’t have to buy the most expensive piece for it increase financially.

Always buy from a gallery that you trust. An art gallery is always going to want to sell you pieces that they offer and are trying to promote, so you need to do your homework. The cool thing now is that you can visit or and see auction records for yourself. A gallery representative can say to you, ‘This artist has been very successful at auction’, but now you don’t have to take their word for it. You can do your own research and see for yourself whether it’s worth you buying the piece.