Galleries see surge in investment buys

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KUALA LUMPUR: Art theft in Malaysia may be rare, according to the police, but a recent case involving paintings worth RM1.5 million has revealed a growing trend to buy artworks not just because of the love for art, but for investment as well.

Gallery proprietors said art pieces are becoming what property and gold mean to conventional investors. Purchasing them is also becoming popular among younger folk, and not just among older and wealthier art collectors.

“Many who come into the gallery now look at paintings as a form of investment,” said Kenny Teng, who runs the G13 Gallery in Petaling Jaya.

“These people normally have appreciation for art, but they also sell off the artworks in their collection through auctions after a few years when values have appreciated.”

A gallery manager, who only wanted to be known as Torng, said more among the younger generation are turning to art as an investment.

 “People used to buy more Chinese ink paintings for investment but the focus has now shifted to oils and watercolours,” she said.

“We see a lot more middle-class and younger people showing interest in artwork as well,” Teng agreed.

“Instead of buying properties or diamonds, these people buy paintings instead,” said Torng.

Teng said the value of some paintings could appreciate up to double the initial price, depending on the artist and the type of work. Paintings from well-known artists could fetch a starting price of RM20,000, while a new artist’s piece could have a starting price of RM3,000, said Teng.

Collectors these days, Teng added, are more interested in modern and contemporary art from around the region, noting that interest in art has seen a spike over the past three years.

“Today, there is much interest in the work of local artists,” he said. “For a country [relatively new to] the art scene such as Malaysia, the usual thing is the copying of artwork. We see [imitated] artwork being sold as original,”  he added. — The Malaysian Insider


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 22, 2014.