IEPlus: Art market in UK booms as foreigners buy

London has already benefited greatly from the surge of Continental European buyers seeking a safe haven for their funds and assets from volatile markets.

London real estate was the first asset class to feel the effect of substantial inflows. According to a report by research firm Fathom, 61% of prime central London property spend between 2007 and 2011 was from abroad.

But the impact of those fund inflows is growing. Constantine, a fine art storage and transporter firm, has announced business activity is up by 50% in the year from August 2011 to August 2012 as foreign investors in London also make investments in silver, art, wine and gold.

Overall, its business is growing exponentially as a result of increased sales at the elite end of the housing market. Many European, Russian and Asian investors are moving their assets to safe havens, and London is a key destination. It has seen 30% growth in art storage in the last year, 10% of which has come from Greece.

Editors Note: InvestmentEurope is interested to know more of the community activities of asset managers, especially those operating in Continental Europe. Each Friday afternoon we will run a series of “IEPlus” stories online at, which highlight this kind of involvement. If you have material to offer (text or video) for consideration please email it to

“Art investments are on the move and major collectors are emerging, acquiring art as part of their investment portfolios,” notes Tim Sutton, managing director of Constantine. “The UK is seen as a safe haven, being outside the Eurozone, and art is beginning to flow in.”

“The current success of London’s art market is proving itself, not only with an increase in high net worth individuals investing in the UK capital but also with high levels of activity in the auction houses, and record-breaking visitor numbers to exhibitions (such as the Royal Academy’s David Hockney show). Art is proving to be a port in the investment storm for many of the world’s wealthy.”

Constantine, a family-owned firm, is one of only 850 British Royal Warrant holders in the world. It forms part of a new “arts business hub” that enables the safe travel of many of these works of art into the UK.

The company says confidence in the safe handling and storage of such high value artifacts is behind the growth of many of the major London exhibitions at galleries such as Tate Britain and White Cube, now Europe’s largest gallery space.

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