Art as an investment

John Steck, Unique C-Print, 16 x 20 inches, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

Did you see Morley Safer's report on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago? 

In the piece, Safer recalls that twenty years ago, in a similar report on the state of the art market back then, he was flabbergasted that contemporary artworks - by young, living artists - could command and fetch asking prices in the mid-six figures.

Nowadays, similarly situated mid-career artists' work can sell for ten times that much, in the tens of millions of dollars for some. Those kinds of prices have drawn out more than just beauty-loving art aficionados. Seeing the potential for almost guaranteed profits, professional investors have gotten in on the action lately, driving up prices for some professional artists' output to heights that only an investment pool can justify purchasing.

So, with all that action, is it safe to say that art is a good investment these days? We say yes. If by an investment, you mean something that will give you and your family pleasure for many years, and possibly generations.

We can't guarantee the rate of return that piece on your wall will bring you in 10 years. But we can confidently say that if you really, truly love it now, you'll remember why for many years to come. And we can safely predict that there's a very good chance it'll be worth a lot more than the sofa over which it's hanging. You know, the sofa that your kids are jumping on right now.