Investing in the art world is now just a click away

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Owning a piece of art is not just for the ultra-wealthy anymore.

Masterworks, a two-year-old startup, buys artwork with profit potential then sells shares in it to its customers using its online platform.

“Our fundamental belief is that this is a very interesting asset class, which historically has been traded by the ultra-wealthy for hundreds of years,” said Scott Lynn, a 40-year-old founder and chief executive of Masterworks.

“But the only way to really invest in art has been to purchase a painting. Masterworks is the first platform that allows anyone to really invest in these great works of art.”

Customers sign up, pick a piece of art, and decide how many shares they want to buy in it, with minimums starting at $1,000.

For instance, Monet’s “Coup de Vent” painting, valued at $7 million, has a couple of thousand investors right now, according to Lynn, who expects more interest by the time Masterwoks decides to sell it to a collector and then shares profits with its clients.

Masterworks, based in New York, divides the art market into two segments, Lynn said. One, called “blue chips,” includes bankable artists like Monet, and performs with high-single-digit or low-double-digit returns, with low risk.

Another is defined by mid-career, living artists, whose work can yield investors a return of roughly 12% to 20% a year, with moderate risk, Lynn said.

(Reporting by Mark Porter and Aleksandra Michalska; Editing by Tom Brown)

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