Art is one of the platforms where a medley of unique characters from diverse industries can be at the same place. Jasmine Prasetio, Sotheby’s Country Head, Indonesia, and Director, Asia, believes that one of the enjoyments derived from art is the bond shared through the entire process of learning, pursuing and acquiring art. “That feeling of being connected to one another through a mutual passion, as well as forming deep friendships along the way, cannot be measured in tangible numbers and is rewarding on many levels,” she said. “To begin investing in art, set a budget, and choose the artist and the style of art that you like.”

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Next, spend time to explore both local and international artists, and find more information from the artist’s biography to the work’s provenance, exhibition history, publication and so on. “There is no specific strategy for buying art as each collector is different, and the way each person loves art is very subjective,” she said, “But, what is certain is that we should not be shy to ask for advice and information, and expose ourselves to as many forms of art as possible.” 

The biggest investment that we should make in art is time, Jasmine pointed out, and reading books, and visiting museums, art fairs, and exhibitions will hone instinct and knowledge about the kind of work that moves you. “Ultimately, buy the art that speaks to you,” Jasmine said.  “Do remember that, just like everything else, timing is crucial.” Furthermore, study and observe the artist's evolution process over the course of her/his career. “Ask yourself, ‘Where does the work fit into the artist’s oeuvre? Is there a secondary market for the artist, and what does it look like?’”

In the end, to be actively involved in the arts can also mean being a part of history; art, in many ways, is a marker of civilisation and of our own evolution as a society, Jasmine remarked. Art signals the changes in history and perception, and becomes a platform for people to communicate, to provoke and to inform—art can be serious, but art can also be fun. “It is possible to have a great collection without a huge financial commitment,” she said.

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Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

One good example is the Kurokochi Collection of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s works, which Sotheby’s had the privilege of auctioning on April 5, 2013. The collection of 35 works was amassed between 1988 and 2006 by Mr Kurokochi, a gentleman who described himself as a salary man working at a bank in Tokyo. Ranging from acrylic on canvas to works on paper, edition prints and products, all the works were preserved in pristine condition, were fresh to the auction market, and had been published and showcased in various important Nara exhibitions worldwide. 

Nara was still a struggling artist when Kurokochi purchased the works at only a fraction of the price they were sold for in 2013 for HK$41, 132, 500 (approximately US$5.2m). Today, young collectors can buy prints, video art, or works by accomplished emerging artists in the range of US$5,000 to US$40,000. “It is important to realise the fact that not all art collectors buy artists that become million-dollar pieces, yet their own thirst and obsession remain unquenched,” Jasmine said in closing. “For some collectors, art is part of life and not collectibles or investments.”

See also: Southeast Asian art on the global stage

Tags: Indonesia Tatler, Arts, Culture, Sotheby