The art of investing in luxury collectables

The art of investing in luxury collectables

People have long had a passion for art, stamps and wine but these days, what was once a hobby - if a pricey one - can be a money-maker as well.

There has been a sharp rise in demand for such items because "a growing number of investors are discovering that life's luxuries and pleasures can also make profitable investments", according to a recent survey.

It found that the proportion of wealthy people expressing more interest in fine art investments was up 25 per cent last year from 2010.

Those interested in pouring money into wine increased by 11 per cent over the same time period, according to the poll conducted by Citi Private Bank and Knight Frank.

Mr Ang Eng Hieang, executive director at Swiss private bank Bordier & Cie (Singapore), told The Sunday Times that investing in collectables has always been an area of interest for the well-heeled.

"In recent years, concerns over excessively loose monetary policy, as well as price appreciation from strong China demand, have added to reasons for investors to elevate collectables from being just a part of their lifestyles, to a bona fide asset class on their own."

But such investments are no longer confined to the super rich.

Many Singaporeans are starting to dabble in these markets as they are proving to be a good hedge against volatile equity markets, as prices of art, wine and other luxury items are generally not correlated to economic conditions.

For example, the Mei Moses World All Art index, which tracks fine-art sales, grew by more than 10 per cent last year and has consistently outperformed equities since 2000.

Similarly, the GB250 Rarities Index, which tracks the prices of all British stamps - some command £10,000 (S$19,400) or more - has had an average annual compounded return of 13.4 per cent over the past 10 years.

Mr Jonathan Binstock, a New York-based Citi Private Bank client adviser, said in the wealth report that while an equity portfolio can lose most of its value overnight, investments of passion are more tangible; even if their value falls, they can still be enjoyed.

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