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Sanlam Portrait Award 2015 Entries Open

Entries are now open for the Sanlam Portrait Award to celebrate and showcase the best contemporary portraiture in South Africa. Sponsored by Sanlam Private Wealth, in partnership with Durbanville’s Rust-en-Vrede art gallery, the competition is open to artists of 18 years and older, and offers a significant monetary prize of R100 000. Work entered should be based on a sitting, or study from life, and the human figure must predominate. No sculptures, photographs and works created using software or other digital means will be eligible. After judging the entries anonymously, a panel of three independent will identify the winning portrait and select 39 other entries to tour South Africa as part of an exclusive exhibition. The closing date for entries is 23 July 2015, and the winner will be announced on 27 August 2015. According to Stefan Hundt, convener of the judging panel and head of Sanlam Private Wealth’s Art Advisory Service, art can be an excellent alternative investment as part of a diverse investment portfolio, but only if approached correctly. ‘There are great opportunities in the South African art market for first-time buyers, but there are just as many pitfalls. It is crucial for novices to ensure they are well informed about the vagaries of the art market before rushing out to make a purchase.’ Stefan says art as a ‘lifestyle investment’ can offer a hedge against inflation, and there are no capital gains taxes when you sell an artwork. ‘On the downside, transaction costs are high – up to 20 per cent of the value of the piece at auction; art is vulnerable to damage so insurance is vital; and it doesn’t provide any income stream. Nevertheless, there are good returns to be made if you approach your investments wisely and follow the right principles.’ Here are Stefan’s top 10 tips for the first-time art investor:

  1. Do your homework. Don’t rush into a purchase until you have thoroughly researched the artwork, artist, and art market in general. ‘Take time to educate yourself. If you don’t have the knowledge, get the right advice.’
  2. Know who you are buying from. For dealers, find our how long they have been in the business and whether they have fixed premises. ‘There are unscrupulous dealers out there who will try to take you for a ride.’ For auction houses, read the conditions of business usually printed in the catalogue accompanying the sale.
  3. Establish the authenticity of the artwork, either through the dealer (if credible) or an independent expert. At an auction, the onus is on the buyer to establish authenticity.
  4. Don’t be in a hurry. Timing is crucial and the right work isn’t always available at the right time. ‘Good works are rare. Take time to look around and get a good picture of what is going on in the art market.’
  5. Don’t buy something you don’t like. Make sure you will be able to live with it. After all, you have bought it not only as an investment, but also for your own enjoyment.
  6. Be aware that artworks require care. Unlike shares, you are buying a physical item. You must be prepared to look after it, and protect it against damage.
  7. Don’t follow the herd. Just because people are paying a lot of money for a certain artist, doesn’t mean all his or her works are of equal quality. ‘One work by Irma Stern may have sold for R23 million, but this is no guarantee that every Stern is worth this.’
  8. Be aware of price manipulation. Ask around, and don’t just accept the price quoted by one dealer or gallery. Find out what similar works by the artist have sold for.
  9. Understand that the art market is in constant flux. There is continuous price fluctuation. The average art investment is a long-term one. But don’t get too emotionally attached – be prepared to let go when the right time comes.
  10. Obtain the services of an expert art dealer. As with any investment, you must have a strategyular focus. What is your risk profile? Is your investment about diversity, or about value? An objective adviser can help you determine your focus. Also, there are bargains to be found in artworks that people are not currently buying, but your may need objective advice about what is valuable and has potential.
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