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Art as a Hedge Against Inflation?
For information only. Not intended as investment advice.

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Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates
"The unprecedented expansion of the money supply could make the '70s look benign" -Arthur Laffer
Wall Street Journal: June 11, 2009

The "Great Recession" of 2008 saw the creation of trillions of dollars which some insist will eventually result in inflation ...even hyperinflation. Inflation is an insidious process which results in the erosion of purchasing power of a given currency. During such times some investors turn toward "tangible assets" --things that have a physical substance and that can literally be touched-- because of the belief that they will retain their relative value in comparison to other things. Tangible assets might include real estate, vehicles, inventories, equipment, certain commodities (including precious metals) and collectibles (antiques, stamps, gems, precious metals.. and works of art).

Fine Art as an Inflation Hedge? Here's what a few experts have to say.....
(Click the underlined titles to access each article in its' entirety)

Inflation Hedges That Pay Today
by Bob Rice- Alternative Investing May 17, 2013


"Now, you might think of art as a novel investment class, but many European aristocrats have preserved their wealth this way for generations.  And art is much more enjoyable to have around the house than a pile of gold bars."

"Still and all, neither gold nor art pays a coupon.  On one level, the benefits of that are entirely obvious. On another, they’re more subtle. That’s because, as likely as inflation appears, there still remain powerful deflationary pressures, too (which is why all that money printing is going on, after all). And a great antidote to deflation is current income: so investing in real assets that also provide yield is a double-purpose move."


The Art of Investing in Art
By Kyle S
ommer- 2012


"Art has long been considered an "investment of passion" that not only offers aesthetic utility but the potential of economic benefit. Only recently, however, has art been viewed through the lens of modern portfolio theory and considered a potential alternative investment as part of a portfolio of assets. Though research continues to shed more light on what has been historically an opaque market, studies show that art can offer long-term return potential that is uncorrelated with other asset classes."

"The art market has undergone significant changes over the last several decades. Newly acquired wealth in emerging economies has globalized the market in many ways, giving the market much needed depth and resiliency. Studies have shown relatively strong returns over extended periods of time, and recent risk-adjusted performance looks comparable with other traditional asset classes. Low and even negative correlations with equities and fixed income suggest an allocation to art can potentially diversify one's portfolio. In addition, solid returns during periods of high and rising inflation indicates that art can be an effective hedge against inflation. Performance measurement of the asset class is not without limitations and assumptions which should be considered when looking at historical returns."

©JP Morgan

Art Appreciated as Inflation Hedge
By Jeff Segal and Jeffrey Goldfarb- May 11, 2009


"...While the financial crisis has hit the hedge fund heavies and Russian industrialists who bid up art during the boom, executives say well-heeled collectors are buying art now to bolster their vaults against a coming bout of inflation. ...Industry observers credit a familiar figure from the past — affluent collectors scared of inflation. History does show that art prices rise during inflationary periods. The Art 100 Index, compiled by Art Market Research, shot up 130 percent from 1977 to 1982, a period in which prices rose 80 percent. With record amounts of fiscal stimulus being pumped into the system, economists expect inflation to return..." 

©NY Times

Is art a valid refuge from inflation?
Aug 28, 2009


"Gold is frequently cited as investors' favorite safe haven. But what about art? Art has a decent track record during times of inflation – something central banks seem keen to see return... And as central banks flood the global economy with cash, competition for goods and services could provoke inflation – perhaps quite soon. That would push up the price of 'real' assets, such as art, says Angus Murray, chief executive of the recently launched Castlestone Collection of Modern Art fund... Art can indeed be a "valid refuge" from inflation, New York-based art dealer Richard L. Feigen tells Bloomberg..."


Art as a hedge against inflation
November 30,  2009


"...Inflation is inevitable – buy a Picasso. And a Warhol and a Fontana and a Rauschenberg… You probably think such a suggestion is a bit crazy, but I could not be more serious. So serious in fact we are telling all our clients and prospects to put at least 5% of their portfolios into art... Why art? I believe long-term art prices reflect a direct relationship to money supply growth. I am not talking about contemporary art, but art from well-known artists with established auction results.. In this respect, art is much like gold in that the price of both responds to money supply. A comparison of gold and art prices should therefore show a similarity and this is certainly the case...  So given the dramatic rise in gold prices over the last year or two, we should be able to expect art to gain by similar amounts in coming months for the correlation to hold true... In a world where fixed interest, property and cash all look unattractive, I am advocating that my clients allocate larger percentages of their portfolios to real assets, including gold, precious metals, other commodities and most definitely art."

©Investment Week

Art, wine and stamps: Inflation busters
By Chris Newlands -May 18, 2012


"Most people would consider art, wine and stamps as things to be enjoyed, drunk and licked – usually in that order.

Coutts, the 300-year-old wealth management business, believes something different. According to quantitative research produced by the London-based company, all three alternative investments should be added to an investor’s portfolio to protect against the corrosive effects of inflation. The findings show that art, wine and stamps provide a “good inflation hedge” over different time horizons."

“If it is not addressed, a 3 per cent rate of inflation can erode wealth by half in less than 25 years.”

“The research overall shows the clear benefit of adding alternative assets,” says Ladure, noting that such assets are attractive because they also allow individuals to combine their passions with investment. "

"The fact that stamps and art are considered “real assets”, he says, and luxury goods prices have far outstripped core consumer price inflation over the past 10 years, certainly contribute “to their good inflation-hedging qualities.”

"“Anecdotally, we have seen a continued increase in demand for alternative assets, and this popularity is likely to continue as more people enter the market.”

© Financial Times

By Patrick Mathurin/ London -January 8, 2012


"The performance of the Mei Moses All Art index, a leading barometer of art returns based mainly on paintings sold in New York and London, beat the total return of the S&P 500 index of US equities by about 9 percentage points."

“Art prices are not correlated to sudden swings in stock markets but their prices tend to match changes in wealth creation and destruction. I’m not surprised by this growth as we are not seeing the wealth damage of 2008-2009,” said Michael Moses, creator of the index."

© Financial Times

Art Investing: The Inflation Hedge Nobody’s Talking About

by Louis Basenese, Advisory Panelist
Senior Analyst, The Oxford Club
Wednesday, June 3, 2009: Issue #1010

(Excerpts) "...

I crunched the data on gold, art and inflation since the end of the Bretton Woods system. For art, I used the "Mei/Moses Fine Art Index," which tracks the prices of art based on repeat sales at auction, and captures 90% to 95% of the market.

Here’s what I found:


The Art Newspaper
Is art a hedge against inflation?
"A recent glut of auction records suggest the rich are once again investing in art"
By Charlotte Burns. Market, September 2010


"A recent swathe of auction records has led, as in 2004, to speculation that the rich may once again be treating art as an investment vehicle."

"This was backed up by a report by Capgemini SA and Merrill Lynch & Co published in June, which found that the number of global millionaires grew 17% last year, and, with financial markets in flux, art had emerged as the most popular category of “passion investment”.

“The art world is inundated with money—there’s so much liquidity out there because people are afraid of currency. They’ve been told that art is a place to park cash.”

"Art appeals because it is tangible, can be traded in any currency, and comes with kudos—collectors cannot hang stocks and shares on a wall to show their friends. Art may be particularly attractive now because of the uncertainties of the stock markets, big currency fluctuations and the looming spectre of inflation in some major countries, and deflation in others."

©The Art Newspaper

Art, Antiques & Luxury Design
Art vs Inflation
February 19, 2012


"Some countries, notable the United States of America, China and England, have embarked on economic stimulus measures to spur growth. They have chosen to go down the quantitative easing route, and print money as a way of stimulating growth in their economies. Quantitative easing offers some form of short-term relief but in the longer-term, it can cause serious repercussions. The end result of printing money is inflation."

"It is a basic economic paradox; you can’t get richer by printing more money."

"The major push factors in the art market are economic uncertainties by wealthy investors. Most seasoned investors have seen ”the writing on the wall” and have become more pro-active by investing in art, instead of waiting for the economic storm to set in and watch their wealth erode in value. Historically art has been one of the best hedges against inflation."

"Art has advantages over other types of alternative investments, in that it is less volatile, being  considered by most as a long-term investment where a positive return is  gained, long after any economic storm is over."

"One should collect what one likes, as long it’s rare, unique and of excellent quality. Art is a passion investment and should satisfy your taste."

© Art, Antiques & Luxury Design

Recent articles on this subject abound such as the Wall Street Journal report, "Sales Pick Up at New York Art Fairs." Demand has been growing at major auction houses like Sotheby's (whose stock has risen 500% in the past few years: NYSE: BID --and who has sold several pieces by Randy Souders in the past), Christies,' Heritage Galleries ( and others. Click here for more recent auction results... and here... and here. Additional reading about art and inflation can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here with new articles and opinion being published with increasing frequency.

Obviously no investment is completely risk free nor guaranteed to produce a profit. Nor should art be though of as an infallible hedge against an endless cycle of economic booms and busts (and that even includes works by Randy Souders). However, there are ways to minimize the risks while maximizing the rewards. Most reputable advisors recommend the best strategy is to (a) buy works of well known, mature or deceased artists with established followings and a strong, provable history of sales. Look for works that are one-of-a-kind or of verifiably limited quantity and and always buy the highest quality work you can afford. Above all, always buy what you like. After all, art is meant to be displayed and enjoyed --not locked away in a vault. And should inflation ever come roaring back as some predict, investing in tangible assets --including works of art-- may help collectors preserve wealth while indulging their passion for collecting. Happy hunting! 

© Souders Fine Art