For centuries, art has held cultural value but in today’s landscape, art transcends culture to become a powerful tool for the luxury business the world over.

The value, appeal and power
 of art has grown exponentially over the last few decades. It has become a leitmotif of our time, spawning an industry as far-reaching in its cultural influence as it is impressive in its financial impact. We all want a piece of
 the action, from inspiration for fashion collections to corporate sponsorship, private commissions, collections and the curation of place. Art has become a shorthand for desirability, refinement, intelligence and power.

There has been much discussion of the ‘business’ of art, at what point does the ‘business’ kill the ‘art’ and are we about to see an almighty bubble burst? Everyone will have his or her opinion, arguments on all sides have merit and the scope of the subject is far too broad to cover
in any satisfactory depth on one page. Whatever your point of view the power of art is undeniable and instinct tells us, even despite the vagaries of the market, its power is here to stay.

Earlier this year, David and Peggy Rockefeller’s extraordinary collection of approximately 1500 pieces of art, collectables and antiques was sold at auction. The lots included originals by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and so on. It was a very personal collection; acquired, loved and enjoyed over a lifetime, perhaps the most significant private collection sale since the 2009 Yves Saint Laurent collection auction.

Once the preserve of the most wealthy, successful and cultured amongst us, art is now bought principally at this level in a global competition for dominance or market manipulation. The Saudis and Emiratis compete for the most notable pieces of art to deliver their vision and to re-imagine their cities as global cultural destinations. These investments seek to create legacy value, which has the potential to replace or at least supplement the revenue generated from a city’s notable natural resources. There is a race to collect the treasures required 
to fill the extraordinary museums and galleries created for them by the likes of Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas. These will be cultural destinations on par with the best Europe has to offer.

The traditionalists will bristle with discomfort thinking,
 is this really where these treasures belong? Whatever your view, any venue displaying these treasures has to be preferable to Freeport storage. Why is it that art, particularly now, is capturing
 our imaginations and creating previously unimagined value?
 And what might this mean for luxury brands, many of whom are positively manipulating this appeal with projects aimed at benefitting from art’s reflected glory?

There is a number of theories but perhaps the most compelling element is a need to create genuine cultural value in a world increasingly homogenised in terms of luxury products and experiences. When you can buy those things you want in the same store from the same brand in any sophisticated city in the world, the feeling of discovery, experience and rarity can be lost. Brands want to tap into this deeper sense of value to elevate commercially produced goods, emphasising creative inspiration and product rarity.

As we place a higher value 
on experiences and our desire
 to seek out true value and meaning grows, we are no longer satisfied with expensive objects. We want something transcendent, even if just for a moment, that ‘been there, done it’ satisfaction we seem hard-wired to seek.

Every year, about six million people visit the Louvre for a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, yet most spend only
 15 seconds in front of the painting. Darian Leader, the author of Stealing the Mona Lisa; What art stops us from seeing, says ‘People 
no longer study it. It is no longer a painting, but has become a symbol of a painting.’ In an age where everything is accessible, the rare, the original and the unrepeatable become magnetic,
and for this reason, art’s value and influence will continue to grow.

This is an interesting model for the business of luxury to consider. What is our equivalent? Can we protect the original, the rarest, the most refined, and simultaneously generate growth by commoditising the experience of luxury rather than the ownership of luxury? It’s time to ask yourself how you would
 do this in your business.