I’m Not a Millionaire. Here’s How I Could Invest in a Monet Anyway

Two women look at art in an art gallery.
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I won’t lie. I don’t know much about art.

I once wrote a report on Andy Warhol when I was in middle school — but only because my orthodontist decorated his office in Warhol posters. I aced an art history class in college — but only because the tests were open-book.

Basically, I know art is expensive and appreciates in value — that the wealthiest of the wealthy buy up Warhols, Picassos and Banksys as investments.

I just assumed that was way out of my league. I’m definitely not a millionaire, and even if I were, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But a company called Masterworks is making investing in multi-million dollar artwork way more accessible — yup, even for us regular folk like you and me.

But Why Should You Invest in Art?

We all understand the importance of investing our money and have heard all about the importance of diversifying. But have you considered investing in art? You could potentially earn some pretty big returns.

Let’s compare. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies.

Art, on the other hand, can yield much greater returns, because pieces appreciate over time. For instance, Masterworks is currently offering a Jean-Michel Basquiat with an estimated 17.5% gross return, an estimate based on historical performance.

Plus, it’s important to diversify your investments. We’ve seen lately that you can’t always count on the stock market, so it’s a nice peace of mind knowing you’ve spread out your risk a bit.

How to Invest in Valuable Art (Even if You’re Not Rich)

OK, so investing in art can be a smart move, but maybe you don’t have millions of dollars. Spoiler alert: I don’t either.

That’s where Masterworks makes investing in art way more accessible. Instead of buying a piece of art for millions of dollars (then trying to figure out where to even keep it), you can buy fractional shares starting at $20 a pop. That means you still get to reap the benefits of investing in art — without the massive commitment.

When I checked out Masterworks, it had two paintings available: “The Mosque” (1982) by Jean-Michel Basquiat and “Coup de Vent” (1881) by Claude Monet. Past offerings include pieces by Banksy, Alex Katz and Andy Warhol.

Masterworks hand-picks these pieces. By using data from more than 1 million auction records, it selects works from top-performing artists with favorable appreciation and risk profiles.

Here’s where people like you and me come into the picture. You can invest in the painting by buying a share. Shares are $20 apiece, and you invest a minimum of $5,000.

Then, you sit back and relax. Heck, if you want, you can visit your painting in the Masterworks gallery, located in SoHo, New York, until it’s sold to a private collector. If they’re not on display, pieces are stored in a fully secure, climate-controlled space in Delaware.

How it Works

Masterworks typically holds onto works for three to five years before selling them to private art collectors (the ones with millions). Then you get a cut of the net proceeds.

In general, art isn’t a liquid investment — it’s not like you can pull your money out like you would with stocks. But with Masterworks, other sellers are able to put an offer in on your shares at any time, so you can sell your shares and potentially earn a profit that way, too.

Otherwise, like other forms of investing, this is all pretty passive.

And Masterworks isn’t intimidating, either. When I signed up, I felt like it gave me all the information I needed to make informed choices.

So, are you ready to become an art snob? No need to have millions in the bank. Just head over to Masterworks and see what pieces it has available.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.