From blue-chips like Damien Hirst to rising stars like Sterling Ruby, these are the names whose values are on the rise
The global art market reached $67.4bn in 2018 and has grown exponentially in the last two decades. Investors see increasing value in diversifying their portfolio to include art as an investment – up to 8% of all wealth is now held in this asset class.
It can be a difficult landscape to understand, for novice and seasoned investors alike. If you are searching for a financial venture that provides potentially lucrative returns, take a look at this list of the top ten artists to invest in for 2019, which includes emerging, established and blue-chip artists.
Banksy has moved from being a controversial street artist to a mainstream phenomenon. His status as one of the nation’s favourite artists has made him a popular choice for investors since his first print release in 2003. Stunts such as this year’s Balloon Girl shredding in the auction room only serve to maintain his time in the limelight and further increase the value of his work.
The value of Banksy art has skyrocketed since his appearance in galleries. As a blue-chip artist, the value of his work is still increasing – in the last two years alone many of Banksy’s works have doubled in value, making him a safe bet for both novice and experienced art investors. In 2018, at Maddox Art Advisory we saw 16% capital growth in resold works by Banksy. Within the same time period, Sotheby’s Mei Moses index noted median compound annual returns (CAR) of 15.58% for street art.
Cleon Peterson’s aesthetic is reminiscent of Greco-Roman vases, but instead of romanticised scenes, he depicts excess, violence and outright hedonism. Rather than using symbolism or allusion, the explicit violence in his work is carefully contrasted with the flat and distant style. The geometric shapes and carefully pared-down colour palettes move the scenes into a more abstract space, reflecting the way that daily violence often feels sanitised and distant for those not involved in it.
Damien Hirst’s artwork dominated the British art scene in the 1990s, and interest in the artist has not abated. His pieces repeatedly circle long-term preoccupations with nature, death and religion. While he is best known for headline-grabbing pieces such as his shark-in-formaldehyde work The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, the majority of Hirst’s art is in fact extremely collectable and easily incorporated into a home or serious collection. His more recent and widely coveted pieces include the Spot paintings, Butterfly paintings, and Spin paintings.
In 2018, Maddox Art Advisory achieved an average of 12% return for investors who sold their Hirst pieces on the secondary market, compared with a Mei Moses average for the artist of 4.94% for the year.
Harland Miller’s work fuses figurative painting, abstraction and pop art to create subversive and highly collectable pieces. The relatable humour with a nostalgic aesthetic has won Miller a substantial and highly engaged fan base. His works are frequently sold considerably above auction estimates, with a strong secondary market supporting their value. In 2018 and at the beginning of 2019 we have seen average returns of 14%, with a high of 40%, for investors leveraging Harland Miller works. This outperforms contemporary art in general, which saw a 10.6% return in the same year.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, who initially gained prominence by creating street art under the name SAMO, had an immeasurable influence on the next generation of artists. He was responsible both for bringing street art into galleries, and for influencing a number of artists who fold written language into their visual storytelling. His work is defined by direct anatomical drawings, words, numerals and allusions to African history, blended in a unique expression of his identity and place in 1980s New York. While technically an outsider artist, Basquiat was well acquainted with the works of the Old Masters and abstract expressionists and would incorporate elements of their compositions into his own paintings. His first painting was sold in the early 19880s for just $200 to rock musician Debbie Harry and her then boyfriend, Chris Stein. Since then, the value of his art has grown exponentially and continues to climb today. Maddox Art Advisory’s Basquiat sales in 2018 achieved an average of 27.3% return.
RETNA’s trademark script is an amalgam of the different alphabets, gang tags and LA street art that surrounded him as a child. His urban poetics have been designed to feel universal, so that every culture and language can see something familiar, if not completely recognisable.
His cultural presence has gone well beyond even the most successful street art collaborations. The language in Marvel Comics’ fictional country of Wakanda was influenced by RETNA’s work, and he was included in the LA pitch to host the 2024 Olympics. He has even worked as artistic designer for a production at the San Francisco Opera, as well as participating in more standard collaborations with fashion houses in the US and Europe.