Is art losing its cultural value as investors lock up classics in vaults for profit?
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Once upon a time people would make trips to art galleries; give freedom to their imagination and see the world from the unique eyes of the artists. It was an activity carried out with patience and open mindedness. Viewing art today is comparably very distant. The rise of commerce and technology has been evolving the experience of taking in art in the modern world. Investors have hidden some of the most desirable works ever created in their vaults, whilst social media has made it effortless to see art from the convenience of a mobile. Businessman and art collector Mr. Kaiser says, “Art isn't something that is so easily seen. There is only one of everything and they are in particular galleries scattered all around the world. This is what makes art so valuable and the experience is heightened when you see it.” He collects art from paintings to vinyls and with a collection of over 10,000 items and has quite a full vault, but is always ready to purchase. “Art is a wonderful investment because there is only one of it in the world," he says. "Last week I sold a domain name I bought 13 years ago as an investment for £2,500; it was because there is only one of them.” Investing in art is an investment less traditional than bonds or a savings account, but is incredibly profitable. The arts market is currently booming with last year sales hitting a staggering £37 billion. Last year an oil painting by French post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin called ‘When Will You Marry?’ sold for nearly $300m (£197m). This is the highest price ever paid for a piece of art. Some high-profile experts have even spoken out: “no one should buy works of art for investment”, Art critic Brian Sewell said in an interview with the Telegraph. Visits to England’s top 16 museums, which include the main galleries in London, were up 4% cent in the last research statistics in 2013-14 from the Department for Culture. Growth is being driven mainly by tourists, and despite the big names including The British Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museums' positive rise in numbers, this country’s two grandest art galleries, the National Gallery and the Tate Modern, are losing domestic visitors at a fast rate. These galleries have dropped in number of visitors by an alarming 20%. It would seem art has become sentimentally worth less to the public but more to the financially prosperous. Bryan Adams would disagree. Bryan is a 21-year-old young artist in London, currently trying to save up to study at The Art Academy. “I think it’s sad that Britons are spending less time in galleries; everyone needs art in their life,” he says.
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