The Financial Times had yet another art-as-an-asset-hedge-against-inflation story. It rounds up the usual suspects like Castlestone and relies on a dubious article that plumped for Phillips de Pury’s gimmicky BRIC designation as a new collecting category. But the FT did offer this new wrinkle on art collecting by the financially minded in Argentina:
On Thursday, the city bank of Buenos Aires, Banco Ciudad, which prides itself on being the country’s top bank in the auctions business, holds its third “super special” auction of the year – and is already bracing itself for a packed auditorium and telephone lines buzzing with bids, amid what it says is a “sustained growth in public interest in investing in art”.
In Argentina, where private estimates reckon inflation will end the year at 25 to 30 per cent (well above the discredited official data, which reports that prices have risen 6.7 per cent so far this year), buying art may be a new hedge.
It could also be a way for Argentines to maintain a sense of sophistication. Argentines gloried in their humble peso being equivalent to the mighty dollar during the 1990s – until the unsustainable currency peg spectacularly collapsed in 2001-02.
Whatever the reason, visitors to the auction section of Banco Ciudad’s website have doubled in the past month and there are 20 requests a day to receive auction catalogues online for bidders to browse the relative bargains on offer.
Reserve prices for Thursday’s auction of Argentine artists start as low as 1,500 pesos ($380) and the biggest ticket work is Vito Campanella’s oil on canvas, “La Payada” , which starts with what the bank calls the “very tempting” price tag of 15,000 pesos ($3,800).
The bank’s first two auctions this year raised more than 4.4m pesos ($1.1m) and artworks have gone under the hammer for more than 50 per cent more than their reserve prices.
Dodge Inflation, Buy Art (Financial Times)