Brushstrokes Of Wealth: The Art Of Investing In Creativity

The art market was more subdued in 2023 than it was the previous year in which all of the top 10 lots auctioned were sold for more than $50 million.

This year, four of the pieces that nabbed the top 10 prices went for less than $50 million, with even the top-selling painting commanding a lower bid than the most costly painting in 2022.

Last year, Pablo Picasso's 1932 painting "Femme a la Montre" (Woman with a Watch) sold for $139.4 million as part of Sotheby's $400 million sale of works from the late philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau's collection. The painting depicts Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso's mistress, wearing a watch and seated on a chair in front of a blue backdrop. It was the second-most expensive Picasso painting to be sold at auction after "Les femmes d'Alger" (Women of Algiers), which sold for $179.4 million in 2015.

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But in 2022, the most expensive work sold at auction was an Andy Warhol "Marilyn" that sold for $195 million, according to ARTnews.

The top 100 lots sold at auction amounted to $2.4 billion last year, a significant decline from the $4.1 billion in 2022.

The top-selling artworks of 2023 were:

1. "Femme a la Montre" by Picasso, $139 million

2. "Dam mit Facher" by Gustav Klimt, $108 million

3. "Le Bassin aux Nympheas" by Claude Monte, $74 million

4. "El Gran Espectaculo" by Jean-Michel Basquiat, $67 million

5. "Insel im Attersee" by Klimt, $53 million

6. "Figure in Movement" by Francis Bacon, $52 million

7. "Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad" by Richard Diebenkorn, $46.4 million

8. Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) by Mark Rothko, $46.4 million

9. "Murnau mit Kirche II" by Wassily Kandinsky, $44.8 million

10.  "Les Flamants" by Henri Rousseau, $43.5 million

While art as an investment comes with risks and challenges, the growing number of success stories suggests that for those willing to navigate the market, the rewards can be tangible and intangible.

Beyond gallery walls and auction houses, a new canvas is emerging as a lucrative investment opportunity for people who can't afford the high prices paid for artworks like those painted by Picasso. Masterworks allows investors to purchase fractional shares of multimillion-dollar blue-chip artworks.

The company has sold 20 paintings from a range of artists returning more than $51 million to its investors. For example, an artwork by British painter Cecily Brown with an initial offering price of $1.27 million sold for $2.1 million after 259 days. The net profit from a $10,000 investment was $5,000.

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