Art Collecting As an Investment, An Afternoon with an Avid Collector

Brooke Friedman

In light of the economic instability of recent years, many investors have turned to investing in art as option.  I sat down with long time collectors, Lon and Jennifer Engel, to discuss how they diversified their portfolio in challenging times and simultaneously built a beautiful art collection.

KH: Tell me how you came about collecting art as an investment.

L & J: We had been collecting art prior to the economic collapse of 2008, but it was during that period that we began to see art as a safe place to invest our money.  Art, unlike other things, is not a depreciating asset.

KH: What was your first purchase?

L & J:  The Chagall over the fireplace entitled “Bouquet” (pictured below).  We had already had an interest in Chagall and had done our due diligence, which we highly recommend you do, and we really loved the piece.  The Chagall led to more Chagall’s and we also collect Brisson, Neiman and Horowitz.  In addition to building our collection, we started buying pieces as gifts and began collecting on behalf of our four children.

KH: Tell me about art as an investment.

L & J: When we talk about art as an investment, the individual must make a decision.  Are you buying the piece truly for investment, or are you being driven by aesthetics or an emotional reaction to the work?  If it is truly for an investment, you need to be well educated about what the market is bearing and whose value is appreciating.  That is not to say that investing in art is without risk.  Remember, investing is a fancy synonym for gambling.  If you are not willing to lose it, don’t invest it.

KH:  Can you share some tips about embarking upon art investing:

L & J: Of course.  Obviously, do your homework.  You need to know the basics.   Is it a painting, is it a print, is it pencil signed, is it signed in the plate?  All of these things have an impact on the value.  If the price seems too good to be true, it most likely is.  Always try to buy a piece with a certificate of authenticity or an established provenance (history of the piece).  After you have purchased the piece, you will want to protect your investment.  You should get an insurance appraisal, get the piece insured and then have your insurance updated every five years or so.  And, have fun and enjoy living with the art.

It was so wonderful of the Engel’s to give us a glimpse into their collection.  They have added to their Chagall’s in the past year with two lovely purchases from Alex Cooper. From the 2017 October auction: Lot 988 “Dionysophanes.” And from the January 2018 auction: Lot 901 “Circus Girl Rider.”








For more information about collecting fine art,
please contact Kathleen Hamill

Director, Modern & Contemporary Art

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