Following  the complete sell-out of their initial share offering,  UK-based digital art investments platform, ARTCELS, released 400 additional shares on 8 April 2020, amid plans to create bespoke virtual art experiences, including an exhibition, that allow shareholders to enjoy their art assets from the safety of their homes during the pandemic lockdowns.

In February, the first ever asset-based contemporary art exhibition, ‘XXI’, by ARTCELS opened to much fanfare at the state-of-the-art HOFA Gallery in London’s Mayfair. The exhibition featured rare and unseen works by blue-chip artists including Kaws, Damien Hirst, Retna, Jeff Koons, Banksy and more.

The art investments platform offers subscribers shares in high-value contemporary art, was designed by Glencore commodities trader, Gijs de Viet, and HOFA Gallery Co-Founder, Elio D’Anna, to open blue-chip art investments to a wider and younger international market.  

ARTCELS’ management team are highly sensitive to the realities of social distancing and limited travel as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and are planning to create a virtual ‘XXI’ exhibition to début at HOFA Los Angeles in May.  According to them, the virtual art experience will be “immersive and dynamic” by exploiting emerging Virtual Reality (VR) trends and will become ever more interactive as it is adapted progressively to satisfy viewers.

Following the additional share release and dates now set for the first ‘XXI’ ARTCELS virtual exhibition (4 – 18 May, 2020), BuzzVestor Media speaks to ARTCELS and HOFA Gallery Co-Founder, Elio D’Anna.

BVM: Virtual art dealing was already emerging as a promising platform for art investors, galleries and dealers, but with the unprecedented remote-working and living as a direct result of the Covid-19 epidemic, how is ARTCELS adapting to meet the demands of its existing and target client base?

EDA: Over the past few weeks ARTCELS have seen a dramatic influx of investment inquiries. We believe individuals in isolation are looking online to diversify their portfolio from vulnerable global equities investments to an asset-backed investment such as art, which has specifically shown to outperform all other asset classes in a volatile market.

ARTCELS is further supported by the continued access we are affording potential collectors through immersive virtual exhibitions, which can be experienced solely or with friends or family they are currently in isolation with.

Another key factor is the accessibility of investing in blue-chip contemporary art that ARTCELS offers, with a single share value worth just $500. This low entry-level price has democratized access with the average investment being between $10-15K. To cater to these growing demands in shares, ARTCELS are increasing the number of shares they are offering in Q2.

BVM: Are we in an art buyer’s or seller’s market?

EDA: At present, it is definitely a buyer’s market. With the uncertainty of the current economic climate, and the unknown stability of the S&P 500 and FTSE 100 being extensively reported, many financial advisers and analysts worldwide are advising clients to diversify their portfolios and focus on long- term investments, such as art. There is evidence to suggest that the art market can fare reasonably well despite volatility in the stock market, such as was seen from January 1997 through to May 2004 when the average quarterly fluctuation in the Artprice Global Index was two to three times less than the same statistic for the S&P 500.

In 2008/2009, despite every market feeling the pressure of the economic crash, the Art market was one of the first investment options to bounce back in 2010, mainly due to the insurgence of Chinese art.

BVM: The sell-off of equities means private investment funds and private individual or family office investors want a new outlet for their cash. How does your portfolio approach work? Are investors acquiring single pieces of artwork or investing in a portfolio of art with other investors, with a view that they will realize their investment with individual or a series of artwork sales from prospective art buyers?

EDA: ARTCELS provides a chance to invest in a portfolio of 60 individual artworks by Banksy, KAWS, Damian Hirst, George Condo, Jeff Koons, and other blue-chip artists. Prospective investors can be assured they are investing in carefully sourced art, which has been chosen with a view to achieving capital appreciation based on expert analysis of market trends.

We have the insight on art and market trends which with a number of releases each year. Each share that an investor acquires is a share of the whole portfolio of artworks, with their investment realized from a series of artwork sales through our partner gallery HOFA and auction houses.

BVM: How do art investor newcomers handle due diligence when it comes to art valuations; projected ROIs?

ARTCELS’ portfolio contains artwork from reputable artists where current market value is publicly documented in online auction results and art galleries worldwide. We work directly with Doerr Dallas Valuations in the UK, who provide us with independent valuations of the portfolio, so there is complete transparency of market values of the portfolio for all investors, whether experienced or new.  

BVM: In this time of uncertainty, what is your message when it comes to the present and future prosperity of contemporary art investment?

EDA: As has been seen in previous periods of uncertainty, the art market has the ability to self-stabilize remarkably quicker than in other markets. Physical art galleries that rely on footfall will feel the present pressure of the economic situation.

It will be the online art platforms such as ARTCELS that will thrive in this period of self-isolation, and so whether you are looking to diversify your investment portfolio, or have simply just wanted to own an original Banksy, now is the time to buy before normality is restored and prices rise.

D’Anna explains the basics in this Sky News interview: