TheStreet: With S&P 500 in a 'Blue Period,' Investing in Art May Give You a Mona Lisa Smile

By SIMON CONSTABLE

NEW YORK (TheStreet)-- Price gains for works of fine art have ground to a near-halt. What's worse, even those small gains are increasingly driven by fewer and fewer mega-priced trophy pieces. It could mean continued bad news for auction houses like Sotheby's (BID) , but it's a boon to investors wanting a good buy outside of the stock market.

Average price gains for fine art sold at auction are close to zero this year, according to new data from the Mei Moses World All Art index, which tracks the prices of such works. On the chart below, the rolling three-year average of price movements for 2015 is barely even visible, just a touch over zero, assuming prices for the remainder of 2015 remain static. It's a world away from the double-digit gains seen year after year in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008.


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