Tales of acquisition with the Mickys art founder

For many, the art world can seem like a place for insiders only, but we forget that people from all walks of life exist in this space, creating, working and sharing their passion for art. We delved deeper with Mickys art founder, Michael Mancuso, to uncover his pathway in art, and how he got to where he is today.


Firstly, how did you get into purchasing art?

My mother worked at Christie’s as well as other prominent Melbourne art galleries as a valuer/Gallerist. At the exhibitions, I worked as a bartender from the age of 15-17, so I was around that world and gaining insight early. Over time, I watched the price increase of certain pieces and that’s how I discovered the collecting and dealing side of things. I became fascinated with the art economy and wanted to start investing in it. I definitely feel like I had an eye for what would appreciate in value, I also used to spend countless hours researching a reading on emerging talent. 


How important do you think it is to have buyer advocacy?

It all depends on who you are - 95% of people need some advice or consultancy because you need to be trained or steered in the right direction to ensure what you’re looking at is a good investment. Some people buy art purely because they like it, some need investment advice and some already know what is required. 


I would say if you want to buy art that’s going to increase in value, then you need advocacy. It’s the same framework as most investments, be it property, equities etc. If you invest in a company, you want to know who’s running it right?


If you buy directly from the artist, you must consider if they’re a transitional artist or if it’s a career for them. Are they focused and will they develop over time, do they have some business nous? It is what it is, art is competitive, and they need to have some business backbone.


Tell us some of the craziest things that have occurred along your art buying journey?

I purchased my first home buying art. I paid for my wife’s wedding ring, and our wedding through buying and selling art. I bought multiple pieces by French artist, Invader, for $1,200-$15,000. They’re now worth $70K-300k per piece. I bought an Alec Monopoly piece for $15K, now worth $100K and many others. 


What I do in my primary role is real estate investment, but on a percentage scale, art is more profitable with a great return on investment.  Real estate you can make 8% a year, but in art you may make 500%. With our Art Money service, we’re trying to give people the financial leverage to purchase art, and have these experiences. When I was younger, none of this was around. Now for young people especially, it’s easy.


Funny story, once when I was very young I had a VW golf worth $7K that was broken down, and it was going to cost $4K to fix. At the time there was a Mark Whalen work going for $4K, and I had a choice, fix the car or buy the piece. I went and bought the Whalen. On the way back from picking it up, my car broke down completely, with the artwork in the back of it. As fate would have it, that choice to buy the artwork was a much more profitable one.


I suggest spending time following new trends, getting to know artists and getting advice. Like anything you need to be informed and seek sound advice prior to embarking on the journey. 


What’s been your favourite acquisition?

I bought a piece by Reko Rennie, a prominent Australian indigenous artist. The work generally was unattainable, but then I managed to get one. He’s one that produces indigenous art in a contemporary sense. He has become a hit around the world, and I think he will be one of the most famous and collectible over the next 20 years. In saying this, I love many works in my collection and love to build on it. 


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November 25, 2021