The first investment in art was made in 1997 by the Union of Transport Workers of Switzerland. The Union bought a Picasso with pension money. It was sold ten years later and reported a return of more than 1000% on the initial investment. We understand this purchase whose only wish was to earn more money. There was never a desire to keep the pieces. Something similar happened to the art collection of the Pascual Workers’ Cooperative Society. The difference that the Cooperative kept the artworks.
Other companies that have made good profits in creating art collections have been UBS Group, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, the automaker BMW, to name a few. We know that USB has a collection of more than 35,000 pieces of art, both contemporary and modern, however, they have emphasized that their collection is of little-known artists or at the beginning of their careers, their philosophy justifies that they have always sought to support artists live in the moments when their careers need it most, and why not say it, it is an excellent investment, you buy cheap and you will sell extraordinary.
This has allowed them to acquire pieces by many relevant artists when their works were still relatively inexpensive, allowing them to donate or lend pieces by relevant artists to museums such as MoMA.
David Rockefeller’s collection started in 1959 and with it, the beginning of corporate collecting, which is now in the hands of JPMorgan Chase and that transformed the ideas of art into corporations beyond a mere decorative system.
The investment of corporations in artistic and cultural goods has left an excellent experience in other countries, especially when they stop depending on the State to obtain the benefits that corporate collecting brings. Subject matter specialists and curators have been able to take art collections to the next level. That is, transforming a series of resources that are naturally allocated to a company, such as advertising to give it a new aspect with a social connection. Something would normally be considered an advertising expense becomes an investment.
The consumer’s view of companies that are linked to social or cultural activities invariably improves and positions them in a higher hierarchy than those that do not. That creates a feeling of consumer loyalty to those corporations that tend to philanthropy. Not to mention the position that these actions leave for the executives.
An opening of the entrepreneurs would force the fiscal possibilities for the benefits, let’s not forget that the purchase and donation of artwork can be made tax-deductible, and there are many ways to obtain benefits for everyone, not only for the company but also for the sector productive artistic and undoubtedly for the government that will save money and effort in financing the arts away from public interests.
The culture and art of society are everyone’s responsibility. We cannot pretend that the millions of tourists who visit a country come to appreciate the beauty of the functioning of political and social institutions. They come to appreciate the artistic works of a country, a nation and a culture that has spent years investing in culture.
To measure it, the thousands of tourists who visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s Casa Azul in Mexico every month are a long-term investment from the Mexican State that financed the Mexican muralist and Frida. We can see that government funding and support for the arts during that time has paid off in a way. We are not talking about the artistic quality of the two communist painters, we talk about the economic impact that the artistic activity of both generated and the importance of the support that the Mexican government granted to Mexican Muralism.
We understand that these benefits may not only be for the patrimonial owners of Frida Kahlo, it is also an economic benefit that goes from hotels, Airbnb, transportation, airlines, food, and that a tourist who visits the Blue House, does not come only to visit the CDMX, you will, of course, go to Los Cabos, the Rivera Maya, Oaxaca or some other tourist destination. But do not doubt for a second that the tourist who goes to Mexico do it through the best tourism agency a nation has: Culture.
Dr Pablo Angel Lugo