Gerhard Richter Painting

An art historian and former dealer in antique art, Thomas González was always passionate about art. He considers himself as a translator between the finance and the art world. Both live in their own realities and both are convinced that their view is the only real and firm access to reality. Yet together with his network of strong financial partners and private banks, he was able to pay out art loans of over one hundred million Euros. Arts & Collections asked him about the work of an “art banker”.

What is great art in your eyes?

Great art contains deep and eternal truth about human beings. It touches a large number of people no matter which background they have. Even after decades and centuries it makes people feel, and becomes authoritative for all other artists.

And this justifies the enormous value?

Absolutely. Art is a real asset, a cultural value. Coca Cola may just be one of 100 fizzy drinks brands, but it has its enormous value because it is also a synonym for freedom, Western-American lifestyle, it is a symbol for the USA. Billions of people are acquainted with the specific taste. They only want to drink “the original”.

Like an original artwork?

Exactly. Billions of people know the pattern of Andy Warhol’s style of painting. It has become a brand. New media like Instagram multiplies the spread of those visual brands. Merchandise articles like pens, T-shirts and handbags only sell because they show an image of a Warhol or a Jeff Koons. Imagine how special it must be if you own the original artwork!

Andy Warhol: Artist Profile image courtesy Andrew Moore, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Andy Warhol: Golden Marilyn Monroe

So art is like a currency?

Money is just printed paper everyone believes in. Nowadays only a few percent of the existing money is actually printed. Most money is just a number in a computer of the central banks. Therefore people always wanted to diversify into precious metals (which almost has no use), stocks, real estate, art and lately in crypto-currencies. Art is the best currency, it is a mobile material asset and it is not regulated.

But you can’t use it to pay your rent…

Water can have different status of aggregation: ice, vapour, liquid. The same happens with art. You can sell it or you can take a loan against it, like with all other assets like real estate, stocks, cars. If I had great art today, I would not sell it, but rather take an art loan. Prices for big art have double and tripled in the past ten years. I know a lot of people who regret that they sold their Gerhard Richter, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat in the past…

Gerhard Richter at work

And you think this trend will go on?

Definitely. In the 80s, the art market was a small club of crazy art lovers. Nowadays it is a mega-market with thousands of serious collectors not only in Europe and the US, but also in Russia, India, China and all parts of the world. The multi-trillion dollar finance market is just discovering this niche. If only one percent of the finance investment market moves to the art market, the art market volume would triple. On top there is a new and young generation of wealthy heirs, hungry for art and inspiration. And we face a fierce inflation – governments around the world are printing billions of new money in order to absorb the shocks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Where do you see the future for art investment?

Art will be an normal investment asset also for small investors. Big names and important art will become extremely rare. When I look at the current contemporary sales, even I as an art historian don’t know 50 percent of the new artists. The market has to “produce” them because there is not enough material of established art. I recommend: don’t sell art, buy more art – and if you need liquidity, take an art loan.

Are you interested in working with Thomas? Visit his Website to learn more.

See also: Fondation Louis Vuitton Presents the Morozov Collection

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