Move Over Wine and Classic Cars, Art is the New ‘IT’ Luxury Investment

A pair of record-breaking, and very different, portraits helped drive art to the top of the Luxury Investment Index in 2017, beating out perennial front-runners classic cars and investment grade wine along the way, according to The Wealth Report, produced by Douglas Elliman | Knight Frank Residential.

The year’s top sale went to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, a portrait of Christ that fetched a whopping $450 million at auction from an unnamed Middle Eastern buyer, smashing the previous world record of $179 million set by Picasso’s Women of Algiers in 2015. The year’s second biggest catch went to Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawawas, who snapped up Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled, a skull-like portrait rendered in slashes of color, for $110.5 million.

The Wealth Report 2018 Art Leads luxury investments
The two top selling art pieces at auction in 2017 were Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ (left) and Basquiat’s ‘Untitled’. Images: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

While these two were the headlining sales of 2017, the wider art market also performed very strongly. According to data from Art Market Research (AMR), the average value of art sold at auction rose by 21% last year alone.

After a depressed art market in 2016, experts see positive signs in the recent uptick in activity.

The Wealth Report 2018 Art Leads luxury investments

While post-war and contemporary art have driven the market in the last few years, AMR’s Sebastian Duthy says there is hope within the industry that the sensational Da Vinci sale could attract a wider audience to Old Masters in 2018 and help keep art on top of our investment index.

Following art comes wine in our rankings of the year’s top performing assets. Coming off a year in which it led all assets with growth of 24% in 2016, wine put in another double-digit performance in 2017, rising by 11%.

Third on this year’s list is classic cars, which is also the best asset performer over a 10-year period. 2017 saw a number of striking auction results, with a 1995 McLaren F1 going for $15.6 million, while a 1959 Ferrari 250GT California Spider LWB went for $18 million. 

The Wealth Report 2018 Art Leads luxury investments
A 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, raced by legendary driver Stirling Moss, was the year’s top seller at auction: $22.5 million. Image: Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

But it was a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, raced by legendary driver Stirling Moss, that was the year’s top seller when it was auctioned for $22.5 million.

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