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Let Former Hedge Fund Manager And Anti-Art-Commodification Art-Commodifier Howard Rachofsky Teach You How To Navigate The Pricey Waters Of The Art Market

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Skyrocketing prices be damned: Retired hedge fund manager/full-time buyer of and pontificater on art Howard Rachofsky says there's never been a better time to buy a few canvases, provided you've already got places on land, at sea and in the air, have a desire to show up your friends and aren't interested in the stuff that other people are interested in.

Now is a good time to buy contemporary art, even though prices have never been higher, the Dallas-based collector Howard Rachofsky says as he digests his bratwurst.

The former hedge fund manager and his wife Cindy are grabbing lunch at Art Basel, the world’s biggest fair devoted to 21st- and 20th-century works….

“The market for masterpieces and trophies couldn’t be stronger,” says Rachofsky, 69, dressed in a cobalt-blue jacket and canary-yellow pants. “There’s plenty at more modest levels, particularly by younger artists. There are opportunities….”

In the last four years, they’ve been buying Japanese postwar art, amassing what Howard calls a “definitive” collection of as many as 100 pieces by artists such as Shiraga, Saburo Murakami and Shozo Shimamoto.

“Japanese postwar is an undervalued area of the market,” he says. “Our primary concern isn’t financial. There’s a whole evolution of thinking right now about mid-20th-century art movements and we’re trying to be part of the dialogue….”

Rachofsky attributes the rise in prices to what he calls the concentration of wealth. “After you’ve bought three homes, two yachts and a plane, the most visible manifestation of affluence is what’s hanging on your walls -- particularly if your friends know what’s there,” he said. “Bragging rights are important.”

And do not get him started on that hack Damien Hirst or on the Chinese or on people like himself.

The former partner at Regal Asset Management in Dallas finds Damien Hirst less to his taste. “I don’t own any paintings by him,” says Rachofsky. “I respect the work. It just didn’t follow the paths of our collections.”

He’s altogether more dismissive of Chinese contemporary art, which was bought speculatively by Western collectors during the last boom. “Don’t get it, don’t like it,” he says.

Rachofsky is saddened by the commodification of art. “We’ve all become so quantitatively preoccupied,” he says. “When we look at a work, we don’t say that’s an extraordinary painting, we say that’s $10 million. It’s sad, if you’ve been around for a while, though not surprising.”

Now's Best Time to Buy Art, Collector Rachofsky Says [Bloomberg]


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