EXECUTIVE INDULGENCES Indigenous Indulgences – Investment art or expensive bauble?

With the season of gift giving upon us it’s time for the hard-working exec to submit to the urge to splash out – on well-deserved reward for him- or herself. Perhaps some tasteful ‘bling bling’ to show off at the festive season do’s, or little Hotere or Hammond to adorn the mantel and silently speak volumes to admiring guests?
Art critic Keith Stewart says reasons for buying art cover the gamut from personal pleasure to status and investment. The value of individual pieces is response to what the market likes or dislikes at the time. “Good art always maintains value – but what is good art?” His best advice is to buy something you like, and talk to good dealers. “Good dealers will often know the person you’re buying for” (if it’s gift).
“Who is good dealer? – talk to them, see if they are interested in what you’re talking about. The big test is to ask them what art they’d recommend that they haven’t got. If they say ‘nothing’ you’ll know they’re not good dealer.”
Stewart says the art market has slowed down bit. “It went little crazy for while earlier on – some people got over-committed. New Zealand is not big market – if somebody exits it can have big impact.
“There’s been few ‘new’ New Zealanders buying here lately. They got what they wanted and stopped buying. It causes huge volatility – only for big name artists though.”
For an executive gift or sound investment that won’t break the bank Stewart recommends opting for smaller work from big name artist: “Something that would go well in an office or bedroom. Small intimate works are great in that sense.”
He recommends playing it safe and catering to the pleasure of ownership and the sense of luxury that art imbues. “Find something to suit them: if they like bright colours choose something bright. Prints are really good, and lithographs are good buys for gifts.
“Stay away from bright new artists [ie going to be great in few years] unless the person really likes art. You want them to be pleased with the present and not say ‘who the hell is this?'”
Some of the best news for aspiring art buyers and/or investors is that thanks to former Black Cap Adam Parore, they can purchase artworks without having to front with all the cash. Parore set up his specialist art finance facility, Index Group (www.indexgroup.co.nz), 18 months ago. It’s the first of its kind in New Zealand: the Group’s website says the facility is further and natural step in the development of the art market.
To qualify for the service the minimum purchase price is $10,000 with minimum deposit of 25 percent. Security for the advance is the artwork itself.
So for just quarter of the asking price down and the rest on the never-never (well, up to 60 months anyway) that Gretchen Albrecht you admired could be gracing the walls of your monochrome (designed with the upwardly mobile art collector in mind) apartment.
Parore says art purchasing had typically been done on vendor finance, with vendors extending the terms of the purchase to accommodate the buyer. But dealers had cottoned on to this, becoming less willing to play banker for the buyers, and Parore saw his opportunity in this niche market.
Index Group’s finance book is evenly divided between existing collectors and newer entrants to the market with the typical new entrant taking three- to five-year term.
The Group has added consultancy to its offering and that now accounts for 70 percent of its revenue. Parore now advises on individual collections – with his wide knowledge base collectors have sought him out. He manages their collection much like managed fund operation. With his legal and investment banking background he can manage clients’ art investments for tax efficiencies and other financial benefits.
According to Parore the market has shifted from the hyperactivity of earlier this year. “There’s plenty of activity on newer artists and works under $20,000, but the higher priced are hard to find. There’s just no quality stock around. For example there’s been no Hammond offered this year, whereas in the previous few years his works have been turning over $1 million per annum.
“It means we need to be bit more inventive in sourcing – but that’s good for us, it’s what we do. It does make it harder for the auction houses.”
So if you fancy little something of the artistic kind to lift your spirits this festive season, but lack the time, the knowledge (or the bulk of the ready cash) to source it yourself, Parore’s your man.
If you want to go direct to the dealer, word is you can’t do better for customer service than Kathlene Fogarty, director of FHE Galleries in Auckland. You can hear the passion in her voice both for New Zealand art and for the work she does for her clients. But alongside the passion she emphasises the need for “consideredness” (her word) both in terms of the art market and in the choosing and presentation of gifts of art.
Fogarty often finds herself working for both husband and his wife, buying for each other. “It’s the ultimate in political challenge – knowing what and how much to reveal to each party.”
FHE doesn’t advertise. It has loyal client base and does lot of work specifically for those clients. “We would have anticipated Christmas coming up and done research and sourced pieces with specific clients in mind.”
Fogarty says it’s important that gifts are exclusive: “It must be the whole package, for example the piece arrives at the client’s office beautifully packaged, complete with card and sometimes with poem (yes some clients like romantic poems). It has to be extraordinary and different, and specific for that person.”
She says the gallery’s clients have high expectations and, “we aim to perform to the highest level and exceed that expectation”.
Clients are often gifting internationally. “There needs to be an element of ‘consideredness’ which is an intrinsic part of the gift,” (ie the thought and effort that goes into it).
Clients or the gallery may commission piece from an artist for husband, wife or business associate. commission can take anywhere from six months to very short time. The gift needn’t be expensive. “For example 10 people can get together, put in $300-$400 each and get nice piece.”
Fogarty doesn’t agree with Parore that there is shortage of the higher priced artworks. “There is price for anything for buyer or seller. It’s who you’re dealing with and having the contacts.”
She does agree however that the market has been overheated. She has been travelling internationally and says New Zealand art is extraordinarily highly priced for such small market – but is sustained by extraordinary art.
“New Zealanders, and expat New Zealanders, buy New Zealand art. But any market that’s been overheated will burn out.” She believes an element of consideredness [there’s that word again] is needed in the market.
“There’s huge interest in pounamu [New Zealand greenstone] art. It’s very precious to Maori and has great cultural value to all of us as New Zealanders. It often comes with an explanation of the work, and sometimes Maori proverb.
“There is an extraordinary variety and quality of New Zealand art. Dealers overseas are stunned by it. New Zealand painting has very individual language (Hammond’s work exemplifies this). The same can be said of the applied arts field – 3D objects, kete and glass for example – which does very well here.” Fogarty’s gallery recently had show of 13 Emily Siddell large glass sculptures which sold out in one hour.
But if this sounds too hard you can still resort to the bling bling – and there’s no better place to start than Antheas in Remuera Village. Antheas business is also based on long-term relationships with customers and it specialises in top quality diamond jewellery and handmade pieces by master platinum craftsman.

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