Why Buy Art?


The whole aim of civilization: to make everything a source of enjoyment.

Leo Tolstoy


Singapore-based Wealth-X asked over 2,000 people, Why buy original works of art?

How do you think they answered?

Nearly two-thirds (62%) said “my enjoyment.” Pleasure—what the researchers termed the “emotional return on investment”—represents collectors’ primary motivation for buying original art. It also turns out that nearly two-thirds of the objects people own were bought primarily because of the pleasure they bring.

Over one-third (37%) said “my children’s enjoyment.”  Collectors also said they bought original art to protect it, so it can be enjoyed by children and grandchildren. More than a third (35%) said the artworks “are a part of my family and our culture.” The researchers labeled this the “heritage value” of original art. A third of collectors both enjoy what they own and want their descendants to enjoy it, as well. They’re often reluctant to sell the art they own at any price, believing they have a duty to share what they own for the good of society. Despite collectors’ urges to “simplify” and “declutter,” this belief makes original art a “sticky” purchase, the researchers claim.

One-quarter (26%) said “sharing.” More than a quarter of collectors said they “enjoy sharing and showing art with my friends and other people.” Owning original art, at least for many, is a social activity. And as it turns out a quarter of the objects people own are bought primarily for social purposes—for sharing them with friends and showing them off to peers.

One-fifth (20%) said “investment.”  Twenty percent of collectors said pieces of original art are valuable because “there are so few of them around,” and the same number (21%) said works of art “provide financial security if conventional investments fail.” However, collectors who seek only return on investment—who derive little enjoyment from their purchases—tend to buy commodities like precious metals, coins, and jewelry, the researchers said.