People buy art because they like it. Art is subjective. All art is emotional, including the buying and selling of it. It has become fashionable among economists to study the motivations of art collectors. Current data proves that the art market is highly psychological and social.
In a new report entitled “Profit or Pleasure? Exploring the Motivations Behind Treasure Trends”, only a tenth of those questioned said they bought art purely as an investment, whereas 75% cited enjoyment as the key. The study is based on interviews with 2,000 rich people in 17 countries.
buying art gives investors a “high”
Buying art doesn’t just offer a sense of community, it engenders feelings of victory, cultural superiority and social distinction. Some say that it even fills a spiritual void. The term most commonly used by collectors, however, is that buying art gives them a “high”.
buying art is emotional
Art Basel is a Swiss art fair that is a regular stop for many collectors in June each year, and the fair is certainly about having fun. More than 300 high-end international galleries gather in the otherwise discreet Swiss town for a festive six-day get-together.
George Economou, a self-made shipping tycoon whose art collection in Athens is open to the public, bought several works at Basel including a wooden sculpture from 1924 by Hermann Scherer. He distinguishes between buying at auction, which he says feels “more exciting, more vibrant, more alive”, and buying at an art fair, which may have a longer-lasting thrill. At an auction, a lot is won or lost in a matter of minutes, whereas at a fair, a dealer might give a celebrated collector until the end of the day to commit.
So it seems that people, including the wealthy, buy art because they like it. Purchasing art for an investment does come into play but it seems that above that the main motivation is the one that buying art gives them an emotional high.