On Thursday, February 19, the IE Humanities Center hosted a session on All you always wanted to know about Collecting Art (But were afraid to ask) – 10 tips to start buying contemporary art. The event adopted a workshop format and was led by the director of Madrid’s Contemporary art fair ARCO , Carlos Urroz, and by Arte Global ’s CEO, Elisa Hernando. The event was introduced by IE’s Dean of Humanities, Arantza de Areilza, followed by presentations by the speakers. Mr. Urroz focused on the aesthetic side and Ms. Hernando on the investment side.
Mr. Urroz was the first to speak. He started by sharing his favorite contemporary artworks to “get the audience in a contemporary art mood.” He shared four pieces by renowned 20th century artists Pablo Picasso, Kazimir Malevich, Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys. He then offered 10 tips to start collecting contemporary art. Some were based on common sense, such as telling the audience to buy art that they like, or not to think that they have to buy expensive pieces. Others were more practical, like doing research on the artist and using fairs as a chance to compare prices. And some were extremely insightful, such as the recommendation that the purchaser should always buy something that reflects the time they are living in, as contextualization plays an important role in collecting art. He also talked about ARCO, the Art Fair he directs, describing it as quite strong in the Latin American market, and as a place that collectors go on the lookout for young, upcoming artists.
Ms. Hernando began her talk by giving examples of collectors that love the art works they purchase which then go on to become enormously valuable, like a young French couple who bought a Picasso when he was an unknown artist for a ridiculously small amount. Sixty years later when the couple died their heirs had to sell it in order to pay the taxes on its worth, gaining millions in the process. She told her audience that they should buy art for the same reason they dance, because they like it. Ms. Hernando went on to examine the profits involved in investing in art, using the Mei Moses Index to support her arguments to show the profit margins generated by art. She also shared with the public the fact that Chinese and Russian collectors are currently snapping up most of the art market. Finally she talked about her First Collector  initiative. Run under the aegis of ARCO and supported by Banco Santander, First Collector aims to provide advice for people who want to become collectors.
The lecture was followed by a long Q&A session of some 45 minutes, in the course of which IE students asked a large number of questions about collecting, art valuation, art fairs, artists, etc. After 1 hour and 30 minutes this extremely interesting workshop on how to build an art collection came to an end.