Investor Insights

October - 2020

Have you considered a new area for investment?

Something that will brighten your day, or trigger reflection on critical current themes? Something that goes right to the heart of your personal and corporate values? Then consider sustainable art.

In these uncertain days, art, at least, is stable, and can be enjoyed, or reflected upon, for its own sake.

Welcome to our October newsletter. If you missed any of our earlier editions or want to recall the fascinating new companies featured in them, head over to our projects.

As we transition through the times we have recently seen, let us consider art as that space of grounding, assurance, and solace. Our feature subject this month is sustainable art: this is investible art that features sustainability subjects and/or that is created with sustainable materials.

On the broader theme: what do we mean by investment in sustainability? With companies this is easy. Examples of those we have, or are championing include:

  • a firm that produces fast super-efficient electric watercraft
  • a firm whose equipment reduces the power wastage in data centers
  • in the clothing industry, a firm whose platform enables owners of luxury fashion items to move unwanted items into the secondary market rather than landfill sites

Investment in Sustainable Art

Sustainable art has a more complex infrastructure. The term might mean that the subject of the art extols sustainability and/or that the piece is created using materials that are reusable or which, themselves, all being reused. In any case, the investment here is not in a company, it is in the piece itself. The returns might include:

  • The daily enjoyment of aesthetics of the piece in one’s home or office – a daily reminder of the sustainability issue.
  • Resale through an auction, through a reputable gallery, or to a private buyer for a nice return.

We are looking, too, at ways that we might arrange for investments in bundles of pieces – in effect a portfolio – to widen the reward opportunities and mitigate any risks. Another approach is through fractional art, investing as a way of pooling risk and reward in the higher price pieces.

In answer to the question: ‘Is there any money in art other than in the age-old classics?’ It seems that there is.

Our friends over at Bloomberg published a report just this month that, “Online art sales have surged during the pandemic. Auction house Sotheby’s sold US$285 million worth of fine art and decorative objects this year through July 31 – triple the value for all of 2019″ (article). It seems that the average price was around US$10,000 per piece. However, they do warn that most art should be bought for enjoyment or in our view, and taking our suggestion on the art installation above, as a reinforcement of a firm’s or individual’s value. However, one can invest with a financial perspective, but always ensure that the piece has some intrinsic aesthetic value, at least, just in case.

Another report, from UBS, showed that many art collectors would consider paying 25% more for pieces in the sustainable genre with a majority considering sustainable options when buying pieces or managing collections.

We have been following the work of a major artist Almagul Menlibayeva in this blossoming new art form. To quote Natalya’s thoughts, owner of the Andakulova Art Gallery in Dubai: “There is an increasing body of knowledge that firmly establishes the link between arts, creativity and positive outcomes for communities. Arts create robust and vital communities and contribute to the overall quality of life. An artist can provide a strategic and emotional overview thereby, through the work, ensuring that culture, environment, and art are well-integrated and impactful. Hence sustainable art as an investment is becoming popular and is a better investment opportunity.”

Art that Speaks Sustainability

Here are examples from Andakulova Art Gallery we are following, of valuable pieces on the sustainability genre.

The artwork: Aral Beach II, is depicting an abandoned vessel from the Aral Sea (that no longer exists). It illustrates a number of themes: responsible consumption and production, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, no poverty, decent work and economic growth.

Aral Beach II, 2010, Duratrans in lightbox (90 x 122 cm),

Almagul Menlibayeva © Courtesy Andakulova Gallery

The Constructor, 2016, (150 x 100 cm), Almagul Menlibayeva © Courtesy Andakulova Gallery

The Constructor artwork emphasizes the themes of gender equality, quality of education, reduced inequality, sustainable cities and communities in a new world, and decent work and economic growth.

From a value investing perspective, “Sustainability is a classic topic in the contemporary art world, it has been evolving over the years. Furthermore, every piece of art has its unique value depending on the artist, style, message, etc. Indeed, sustainable art is perceived as valuable art by most of the collectors.”

Talking with Aralkum Desert is a piece of narrative translated as art by the artist. It is printed on archival paper and illustrates several themes on the topic of the environment of the Aral Sea, desertification, water, the history of colonization, hopelessness and social issues.

Aralkum Desert, 2019, (87 x 123 cm), Almagul Menlibayeva © Courtesy Andakulova Gallery

Malevich’s Tank, 2020, (71 x 107 cm), Almagul Menlibayeva© Courtesy Andakulova Gallery

The artwork: Malevich’s Tank, addresses issues such as critical explorations, social, economic, and political transformations, and decolonial reimagining of gender and environmental degradation.

Regionally, Andakulova Art Gallery is representing artist Almagul Menlibayeva, her work has been exhibited at institutions around the world, from M HKA, Antwerp, to the 18th Sydney Biennale and many more. Apart from that, her artwork: Aral Beach II, 2010, Duratrans in lightbox has been sold at Sotheby’s auction house.

Where to next?

Art tells a story. It is a flow of not just colors, concepts, and images contained in a frame – it is a picture of hope, trust and light for the way forward. Sustainable art does all this and more. It keeps us connected to the enriching experiences of life and growth. It keeps us mindful of the price of progress. It is a rich reminder of how the Earth has been slandered and exploited. It reflects a sense of responsibility and kindness.

There is pride in owning a piece of art and there is ownership when it is sustainable too. It is a legacy that we take joy in. It serves to remind us of the fragility of our ecosystems and what we as businesses can do to walk together with the world.

What are the values your organization stands for? How can that reflect on the space you own? What would you like to leave as a lingering sweet afterthought?

As investors and business owners you are creating an impact and weaving a story of change. Let your story be one that flows beyond the frame.

If you are intrigued by the idea of an investment in sustainable art, or by the idea of owning a piece for your own enjoyment, or to reinforce your firm’s corporate values, talk to us.

Art is a statement. We would be happy to ensure that the statement you choose to make lasts for generations to come. Let’s do this together, talk to us today.