Why Silicon Valley’s Young Elite Won’t Invest in Art

by James Tarmy : bloomburg – excerpt

A lot of money is flowing in and out of the bank accounts in the Bay Area—but it’s not going toward art, a traditionally San Francisco status symbol.

Walking through the frigid warehouse that housed the inaugural San Francisco edition of the Untitled Art Fair in January, 23-year-old entrepreneur Connor Zwick took in the fair’s 55 contemporary art galleries and was unimpressed.

“I look at art all the time and see a lot of art I like,” he said. “But it’s not correlated with price at all.”…

Trickle Down

San Francisco’s collectors come from virtually every sector: finance, real estate, venture capital, even retail. The city has an established arts culture, and its older families—the Schwabs, the Fishers, the Haases—have bought, and then donated, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars’ worth of art. (The new wing at the city’s Museum of Modern Art is filled with works donated by the Fisher family.) But the highest echelons of the tech world—the new elite of San Francisco—have been slow to join them…

Culture Shift

Buell, the adviser, speculates that the rising ranks of tech managers will eventually get around to buying art, but “I think it’s going to take a little bit more time, I’ll be totally honest,” she said. “People in the art world are like ‘hurry up and spend money,’ but many of these guys are working their tails off,” she continued. “They’re just having their children and buying their first houses. I think the trickle-down will happen, but further down the line.”

Sanghvi, the engineer, said outsiders need to remember that the tech sector continuously deemphasizes ownership of anything, let alone million-dollar artworks. “Today, people aren’t inclined toward buying a home or car or owning things,” she said. “And there have been markets that have been developed to facilitate things that are communal—like Uber or Airbnb.” If you don’t own your house, in other words, you probably won’t spend tons of money to decorate it. “Most of the material things that we’ve traditionally invested in are no longer relevant for this generation,” she said… (more)

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