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Investing in art

Editor's Note
Phillemon Hlungwani | N’wana a hi wa un’we | Intaglio Workshop Proof

Lore Watterson is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Creative Feel Magazine

South African art has been achieving record results at auctions both locally and internationally, while South African performers have gained great success nationally and internationally. Creative Feel decided to have a look at what it means to actually invest in art. It was the late Stephan Welz who taught me much about South African art. He was always ready to sit down and share his unique knowledge, but he would also call a spade a spade when it came to appraising art. He, the auctioneer, was the first to point out that when buying art, choose a piece of art that you would be happy to live with, but also consider the implications of upkeep and protection. Stephan also looked at young and upcoming artists, investing in the future of the arts in South Africa. For him, investing in art was always a long-term investment: either buy an artwork by an established artist and wait to sell it at a real profit, or invest in an unknown artist and wait for fame to make it a great investment.

Investing in young artists is something that Rand Merchant Bank, for example, has been doing for a considerable number of years, through their support of platforms like Artist Proof Studio, the Fresh Produce exhibition and buying artwork for their corporate art collection from some outstanding young artists. Looking at some of the current values of artworks in their collection by artists like Phillemon Hlungwani, Lucky Sibiya, Colbert Mashile and Willie Bester, it just proves that investing in art is more than buying a piece of art that is valuable, it can be a vision for the future. Another innovative way to invest in the arts is collaborating with artists. In Business of Art, Art of Business, Carolynne Waterhouse of RMB Corporate Marketing spoke about their memorable collaboration with William Kentridge’s The Magic Flute: ‘Innovative ideas is the business philosophy core to RMB’s thirty-plus-year history of success. Kentridge’s version of The Magic Flute is a critically acclaimed showcase of the traditional medium of classical opera innovatively re-interpreted by South Africa’s most famous living contemporary artist, making it an irresistible sponsorship opportunity for the RMB brand.

An added benefit of branding the arts is the availability of original artwork for media and marketing. The Magic Flute television commercial – which was also projected in cinemas – is the perfect example of the business of art complementing the art of business. This intriguing cultural event enabled RMB to play a part in attracting wider audiences to high art with the reward being a globally inspired “brain” rather than “brawn” experience. At Rand Merchant Bank, banknotes are not the only notes that attract our attention.’ But ultimately, Stephan Welz was right. Invest in a piece of art because you like it, because it gives you joy and because you are helping an artist achieve a sustainable lifestyle and, hopefully, this piece of art will prove to be a good financial investment. RMB Private Bank Wealth Manager, James Arnold, gave us his view on investing in art, as well as the technical aspects of Capital Gains Tax for when it comes to leaving this much-loved, and now valuable, piece of art to your dependents.

Editor's note

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