Young Singaporeans are seeing value in art investments

A growing number of young Singaporeans are now buying art. This move is driven not only by profit, but also passion.

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Lee Yi Tian, a 34-year-old art investor, started her journey in art investment three years ago.

“You see so many gorgeous pieces, and you’re really spoilt for choice,” she said. Tian bought works not only from Singapore, but Asia, Europe, and the US as well. She rents it out for income, which yields around 6% annually.

“Our investor base is getting younger … we’re starting to see the average age come down from what used to be sort of that 35, 40 age group down to sort of 25 to 35,” shared Art Works Advisory Chief Operating Officer Chris Hallewell.

Giant auction house Christie’s is also seeing a similar trend. In the first half of the year, 30% of its Singapore buyers were millennials, compared to 26% in the same period last year.

According to Christie’s, Singaporeans see value in Chinese art.

“This can (come) as a surprise, because there’s always a preconceived idea that younger collectors would go for contemporary art,” president of Christie’s Asia Pacific Francis Belin said.

“I think it speaks first to the cultural heritage and passion for people’s own culture and the passion that they have in rediscovering the continuum of art. You don’t see artists today that haven’t been inspired by artists from yesterday, who are not inspired from artists from the day before.”

According to Christine Chua, firm director of education and consultancy of Art Consultancy Metis Art, the pandemic was a turning point for millennials.

“Without the bustle of office life and constant travel, a lot of millennials became more introspective and curious about art. They also started to notice the empty spaces on their walls at home,” she said.

Another reason why younger people are investing in art is due to the economic situation over the past years.

“We’ve seen the economic crisis with the stock shares, bonds, real estate volatility … The cost of living increases are having an impact and people are looking for a stable, safe haven investment. So art over the years has been demonstrated to be extremely resilient,” said Hallewell.

That said, industry players are advising people to not buy simply for investment purposes. After all, starting an art collection is not cheap.

To get a valuable art piece, investors must shell out at least S$10,000 to S$50,000. According to Great Eastern portfolio expert Eddy Lim, clients under the age of 35 typically do not invest more than S$3,000 annually because of their limited disposable income.

At this stage, younger individuals are still spending their money on travel and concert tickets.

“They’re still at a stage where they are trying to find out what works,” Lim added.

More from OMY: What and How You Should Invest During a Recession in Singapore

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