The art market has been viewed as an asset class in its own right by investors around the world for decades now. This continuing trend has helped to contribute to the current boom in the global art market, which reached more than US$67 billion in sales in 2018, up 6% from a year earlier, Art Basel and UBS reported in March.
While works by great Impressionist or Modern artists such as Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso might be top targets for investors, their pieces are already largely in public and private collections. As a result, more investors are turning their focus to newer markets and artists, including artwork coming out of Vietnam. In June 2019, for instance a piece by late Vietnamese artist Le Pho sold for $1.4 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong, a record price for a work by a Vietnamese artist.
One prominent art investor is Vietnamese entrepreneur Nguyen Thi Kim Duc, who has invested in paintings from notable Vietnamese artists such as Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Sang, Nguyen Gia Tri, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Tran Van Chan, Le Pho, Le Tiet Cuong and Trinh Tu, among others.
“America, Europe and China have long invested in art; indeed it is an important investment channel for the super-rich. Vietnam should also be part of this trend. I see great potential and opportunity in art investment,” Duc says.
An Artistic Streak
Duc, Founder and Chairman of HTD Media, was born in Hanoi in a family of artistic talent. Her father, Nguyen Son Dong, is well-known for his novel Xu Doai May Trang May. Under his influence Duc has maintained an interest in the arts even as she built a successful career in business.
Aside from being a collector, Duc herself is a painter. Earlier this year, she presented “Cover of Future”—a watercolor on Vietnamese silk that she painted to show the devastating result of climate change—to world leaders at the United Nations Day of Vesak in Vietnam. The painting will also be exhibited at the Florence Biennale art exhibition in Italy in October.
Bringing Vietnam’s Art to the World
Duc has gone beyond investing in Vietnamese art for her own collection, and is now focused on growing the market by attracting more investors. “I do not want to invest alone and succeed, I want the Vietnamese super-rich to join in helping the local art scene to grow and spread to the region,” she says.
In September, Duc launched the Kim Duc Art Investment Fund in Vietnam to invest in artworks from Vietnam and from around the region, with plans to open the site to global investors in 2021. She also started the Local Art auction site, which will sell the works of talented Vietnamese and Southeast Asian artists. By leveraging blockchain technology, the site will help to protect artists’ works from being copied.
She hopes to expand the investment fund’s focus beyond Vietnam to international markets and auctions and believes that, “one day our art collections will be in the spotlight for world art collectors.” Just as Chinese artwork has sold for record prices in New York and Hong Kong, Duc is confident the same can happen for Vietnamese art. She realizes, however, it will take more time and resources to grow the Vietnamese market and launch Local Art globally. Despite the challenges, she is determined to make Local Art a game changer in the art market in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Local Art plans to donate 10% of its turnover to plant trees in Vietnam. Duc has also committed to giving 50% of her wealth to charitable causes, and will support young artists in Vietnam through the Kim Duc Art Investment Fund from next year.
Local Art Advisory Board
The advisory board of the Local Art auction site started by entrepreneur and artist Nguyen Thi Kim Duc is comprised of the following members:
Nguyen Hong Hue (Peter Hong) – Chairman of Advisory Board – Permanent Vice Chairman / General Secretary of Vietnam Overseas Business Association
Nguyen The Khai – Member of Advisory Board – Architectural consultant – in charge of more than 100 Planning and Architecture projects with five architectural awards in Vietnam
Mike Lai – Member of Advisory Board, CEO Vietnam Global Media