Scoping Out A Solid Investment

Scoping Out A Solid Investment

Tom CallawayBy Tom Callaway

IN THESE ROLLER COASTER YEARS OF UNCERTAINTY, with global unrest all around us, and with an economy that teeters on a precipice (not clearly moving forward or falling back), it is no wonder that making a solid investment in something… ANYTHING, is such an attractive goal! But what could possibly bring a positive return in this precarious environment? I clearly am no Charles Schwab, but in my life, real estate along with certain fine art and antiques have, for the most part, been a fairly sure thing…especially over the long run.

With the caveat that there are exceptions to everything, I would guess that hanging onto almost any valued investment, from kid’s metal toys in their original packaging to a goodly amount of art glass (which I have often perceived as butt ugly), over the long run, these things can and will seriously move up in value. I am still questioning my wife’s plunging whole-heartedly into the Beanie Baby boom of the 1980s. Many a young Mom fought tooth and nail to get each of the latest velour frog, lion, or chipmunk filled with BBs before they landed in another mother’s gilded collection!

Of course, playing the stock market, flipping real estate, and other trading opportunities all work out well when the markets are booming. In the design world, I’ve seen antique furnishings, collections of one kind or another (like art), bounce back and forth, up and down. But over time…with very few exceptions, these things of generally perceived value, usually move up in value with each passing year. Hanging on to the “best” of almost anything, seems to be the key.

navajo-blanketOver the years I have collected everything from Native American artifacts, clothing, pots, and Navajo weavings, along with other antiques, furniture, ceramics, Americana, folk art, outsider art, ceramics, books, ship models, and everything from religious curiosities to scrimshaw. But nothing has given me greater pleasure than collecting art…paintings, graphics, and sculptures that have great visual appeal, but also have steadily increased in value to my inner delight. Like everything else, the most well known, highly regarded, and expensive artist’s works are the blue chip, bankable investments that are often, the sure bet to escalate in value. For this assurance, one usually pays hefty prices from the start to buy in. But paintings, graphics, and photographs as a whole are both fun to collect, beautiful to view, and can be wildly successful investments, particularly when a living or deceased artist’s works take a serious value step forward…often after an important showing at a reputable gallery or museum.

I have often consulted with my design clients on their art collections, helping them to find, to choose, and to install their art purchases in their homes or offices. More often than not, this has been more of an interior design exercise than one approached from an investment point of view. However, of late, particularly in the past two years, the opportunity to help clients collect investment grade photographs, paintings and graphics has been occurring regularly and I couldn’t enjoy it more!

HockneySeveral west side galleries have become regular “must see” stops to find desirable artist’s works with a fairly broad range of prices and investment value. I highly recommend visits to Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. This is a group of galleries containing engaging works from the well known to the lesser-known artists of our time. I am particularly fond of the William Turner Gallery, Rose Gallery, the Peter Fetterman Gallery for photography, and two Leslie Sacks Fine Art galleries…one of contemporary art at Bergamot, and the other on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood village of 20th Century artists of significant stature, along with African masks and sculptures. For investment grade graphics, I also recommend Gemini G.E.L. Gallery in West Hollywood on Melrose Avenue. This gallery is part of the famous Gemini Graphic Editions Limited studio where many of the biggest names in contemporary art have their graphic editions meticulously and flawlessly printed.

At all of the galleries I’ve mentioned, friendly and knowledgeable dealers take the time and interest to guide collectors through the maze of art purchases for both pleasure and investment. I bring my clients to these galleries and others, for them to enjoy the benefit of these art dealers’ valued input, in addition to my own point of view. Together, I trust we are helping these collectors, (new and seasoned) to make the most “solid investment” possible from the myriad of choices in this exciting, but ever-changing landscape.

Tom Callaway is an interior designer and architect, living in Brentwood.

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