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Values that connect artworks with collectors

By Oludare Richards, Abuja
10 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
BEYOND personal appeal and interest that have lured collectors to artistic expression in the visual art sub-sector of the industry, the love for works of art by investors and professionals is getting deep with the new status as ‘asset class’ for a much diversified portfolio.   Unlike most chattels we acquire, the passing of time…

BEYOND personal appeal and interest that have lured collectors to artistic expression in the visual art sub-sector of the industry, the love for works of art by investors and professionals is getting deep with the new status as ‘asset class’ for a much diversified portfolio.

  Unlike most chattels we acquire, the passing of time paradoxically enriches the worth and value of works of art, described by a finance expert as “an investment both in itself and for itself.”

 Managing Director, Nigeria Export-Import Bank, Roberts Orya believes that many people collect artworks for different reasons. For some, it is a way to preserving artefacts originating from traditional cultures for its symbolic and ceremonial meanings, or even as an expression of ethnographic, ethnological, ethno-historical or ethnic identification and pride, while for others, serve as decorative material or an extreme ostentatious display, for its value or ‘museum quality’.

  Orya spoke at the official commissioning of the new edifice of the Thought Pyramid Art Gallery, Abuja, which opened last week with a series of exhibitions tagged: New Conversations. He said, “Many seldom harbour intentions to sell the artworks they have purchased, rather preferring to pass them into legacies.”

  He continued: “As a long-term investment, while the art market can be stable, or even show gigantic returns on an investment during boom times, it is one asset that can easily appreciate in value during sessions of recession. Therefore, when interest rates in banks are dropping, serious investors are moving out cash to buy art as alternative investment.

  “However, as with many other investment vehicles, one needs to go beyond their comfort zone and make research. This is where art centers and galleries play a very important role”, he added.

  In Nigeria, since 1999, when Nimbus Art Centre held an art auction and netted about 22 million Naira, there has been a steady pace of growth in the art market in Nigeria. About a decade later, Art House Contemporary Limited held a series of auctions of which the first of the series netted about 76 million Naira. Since then, appetite for Nigerian art has grown among local and international collectors.

  According to Orya, this development has come in the wake of the knowledge among investors that one could buy an art piece for few hundreds of naira and sell for thousands in even the near future. Therefore, besides stocks and shares, artworks are now being looked at as viable investment options.

  Orya is of the opinion that Nigeria, as the most populous black nation blessed with rich cultural natural heritage, can leverage on the works of many artists, culture activists and other creative arts professionals to increase revenue streams both domestically and internationally. 

  He said, “Artworks – sculptures, paintings, African carvings, masks, baskets, textiles, beadworks etc. occupy a prominent position in the tourism and creative industry which fall under the service mandate of NEXIM Bank. Artworks, artefacts and other creative products like Nigerian music and movies, have a universal market appeal more than any other products we export, boasting of 100 percent Nigerian content.”