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Art investors see big gains

With record-breaking art auctions becoming more and more common, it's no wonder the Mei Moses Fine Art Index has beat the S&P 500 six of the last 10 years, returning an average of 7.8 percent compared to the S&P’s paltry 2.7 percent.

The Daily Pulse is up today on news that at least one market had a banner year in 2011 -- the art market.

According to the Mei Moses All Art Index, which uses a complex formula to measure the returns on works sold in New York and London, the high-end art market returned 11 percent to investors in 2011. That’s a huge return in a year of colossal disappointments for investors playing the stock markets of the world.

In fact, the Mei Moses has beat the S&P 500 six of the last 10 years, returning an average of 7.8 percent compared to the S&P’s paltry 2.7 percent.

The U.K.’s Financial Times reports that Chinese art collectors with newfound riches are helping fuel the surge. China accounts for a third of the world art market, and while they’ve been snatching up Warhols and Lichtensteins lately, they’ve also been repatriating many traditional Chinese works, which explains the more than 20 percent jump in the values of those works in 2011.

We aren’t sure who bought Cezanne’s “Card Players” earlier this year, but the buyer is rumored to have paid a cool quarter-billion dollars. If that’s true, it’s both the highest price ever paid for a work of art in history and a great illustration of the steep barrier to entry into the high-end art market. As values of great works climb into the stratosphere and beyond, the rest of us will likely be stuck with more traditional means of trying to make our money work for us.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.

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