50 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2007
Date Written: March 2007
The comparatively poor performance of traditional asset classes in recent years has driven the search for greater returns via alternative asset classes. The desire to reap higher risk adjusted returns from diversification into assets which offer low and even negative correlation with equities and bonds is extremely desirable. There has been a huge growth in the traditional alternative investments such as real estate, commodity futures, private equity and hedge fund investments.
Additionally, a number of funds specialising in art have recently emerged. These also appear to offer a highly beneficial diversification strategy with extremely low correlation with traditional asset classes. It is important for investors to understand the risk and return characteristics of this new alternative asset class.
In this paper we take a closer look at art as an alternative asset, and look specifically at how this new alternative asset is expected to perform, also during bear markets, when the benefits of diversification are most needed. We look at the risk and return characteristics of art using art market indices, and the prospects for portfolio diversification in the art market using a variety of data across art market sectors, including the Old Master, European Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art markets. Due to the low correlation of art with other asset classes, we find opportunities for portfolio diversification across art markets and across asset classes. The results hold, even allowing for the high transaction costs, which are encountered when trading art, when spread over a longer time horizon.
Keywords: Alternative Investments, Portfolio Allocation, Risk management
JEL Classification: G11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
By Meb Faber