The UBS Investor Watch Pulse Report, For the love of art, explores the behaviors and buying trends of US-based collectors, providing insight into attitudes towards collecting art.

The report shows that many wealthy buyers view their collection as a pursuit of passion, choosing to pass works to their heirs, rather than sell. This is despite recent high-profile sales at fine art auction houses, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s record-breaking Salvator Mundi, or Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled 1982.

Indeed, of the art collectors surveyed, most cited an appreciation for beauty as their prime motivation for buying (71%), followed by a desire to follow their passions (54%), and a wish to support and nurture artists (32%). More than a quarter of those surveyed considered their collection to be priceless, further indicating that a return on investment has little influence on buying behaviour.

The report also highlighted art’s tendency to transcend generations: unlike collectors of coins, stamps and jewelry, fine art buyers overwhelmingly plan to leave works to their heirs, rather than sell (87%). Despite this, few have taken steps to educate their heirs on how to manage and/or appraise their collection (57%), while some confessed that they had never had their collection appraised (41%).

“Collecting is a passion that we share with many of our clients who are developing alternative legacies through their cultural pursuits. Collectors don’t apply the same principles to buying art that they would to a typical investment portfolio of stocks and bonds,” said John Mathews, Head of Private Wealth Management and Ultra High Net Worth, UBS Americas. “It is important, however, to institute management structures to ensure their legacy remains protected, correctly valued and insured.”

The data also offered wider insight into art collectors’ buying behaviour. Most surprisingly, one in four collectors admitted purchasing art online, sight unseen, underscoring the evolution of the art buyer’s journey.

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