Last month was stellar for art sales crowned by the $104 million sale of Giacometti’s sculpture “Walking Man I,” which sold for four times Sotheby’s asking price. Other big sales included a Gustav Klimt painting for $43 million and works by Cezanne, Matisse and Egon Schiele, bringing Sotheby’s total sales for the week of the auction to $236 million, much more than anticipated. Christie’s brought in $150 million for impressionist and modern art paintings including two paintings by Picasso.

What does this mean? Is the art world recovering faster than the equity markets? Just what kind of investment is art and how does one assess it as part of a portfolio? Of course that all depends on the art in question, but in a world where there is an index for everything, there is also an index for art that can be compared with the S&P 500. The Mei Moses All Art Index, created by two former NYU professors Michael Moses and Jian Mei, compares the art market to equities dating back to 1875. (They were able to find art catalogues with prices dating back that far.)

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