Buy a share in art for just £5

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A new trading platform, My Art Invest, is offering clients a chance to be part of the art market without spending their life savings

By Melanie Gerlis. Web only
Published online: 10 April 2014

Banksy’s spray-painting on canvas, Heavy Weaponry is available for £120 a share

Attempts to divide works of art into equal shares, emulating companies that trade on a stock exchange, have proved problematic, at best. This hasn’t stopped Tom-David Bastok, a French collector who gave up his financial studies to develop My Art Invest, a trading platform for art that launches in London today.

“We are different from other [art share schemes] because our aim is simply to be more democratic. We are making the art market more affordable and accessible,” Bastok says. Potential investors need only part with a minimum £5 to own a share of around 100 works available by artists including Basquiat and Banksy. The value of works available ranges from £500 to £100,000, but the “sweet spot” says Bastok is around the £25,000 level. On average, 100 shares are available in each work (though pricier works have more shares available in order to keep their cost down).

The business has been running successfully in France since 2011, where Bastok says he has sold 200 paintings in this way. He sources and buys the works before offering them to his clients (mostly private individuals) who then have the option to trade them through My Art Invest, or hold onto them until Bastok sells the work entirely and divide up the profits.

In reality, there is relatively little trading of individual shares, but the platform has been popular with people who want to participate in the art market “without needing to spend their entire life savings”, he says. It is “part eBay, part e-commerce, part social platform”. And for those who want to take the art home, they need only buy a quarter of its shares to have a work for a quarter of the year.

He is launching in the UK because, he says, London is the “natural place to try something that involves new ideas and new technology.” The platform will be supported by a 230 sq. m gallery in East London on Commercial Street in Hoxton, which will host rotating exhibitions of around 30 works, in which shares are available. It opens on Thursday, 10 April, with a show of street art including Banksy and Shepard Fairey, as well as more cutting edge artists such as D*Face, Katrin Fridriks and the French-born Ludo.

Pierre Naquin—who in 2011 launched Art Exchange, a share-based investment platform for more blue-chip art that never quite took off—cautions that it “took hundreds of years for [traditional] stock exchanges to evolve”. However, he says, he is now raising money from institutional investors in order to “scale-up” Art Exchange and make its offering “less risky”.

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