3 of the Best Japanese Blue Chip Artists for Investing

Japanese blue chip artists have been some of the most popular artists over the past decade (with no signs that this trend is slowing). It is with this in mind that I want to highlight my three favorite artists from Japan that art collectors might want to consider purchasing and investing.

Yoshitomo Nara

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Yoshitomo Nara, in studio with Miss Moonlight, 2020

Yoshitomo Nara is among the most beloved Japanese artists of his generation, best known for his paintings of “angry girls”. The 63-year-old artist has amassed a huge following over the past three decades, and has become an art market star in recent years. Yoshitomo Nara’s paintings now achieve millions of dollars at auctions—his auction record stands at $24.9 million for the sale of his painting Knife Behind Back (2000) at a Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale in 2019.

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Yoshitomo Nara, Knife Behind Back (2000)

Nara has artwork available at most price points, but for investing purposes, you might want to aim for the mid-range prints or Blue Chip painting. Prints would set you back a few thousand dollars due to the high demand and low availability, whereas investing in blue chip Yoshitomo Nara paintings can be done via Masterworks for as little as a few thousand dollars.

One example of Nara’s work on Masterworks

I personally think the more “serious” looking prints and paintings from Nara would hold up better as investments over time, but his more cartoony ones are likely to hold up just fine too.

Ayako Rokkaku

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Ayako Rokkaku finger painting

Ayako Rokkaku is still relatively young for the level of art market success she has thus far achieved. It is why she is sometimes referred to as a Red Chip artist. Born in 1982, Ayako Rokkaku began to garner attention after winning the Akio Goto Prize at Takashi Murakami’s Geisai #9 art fair in 2006 and has now earned a huge following, particularly among younger audiences across Asia. Rokkaku will often forgo brushes, using her fingers to apply paint directly onto her canvases.

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Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled, Timed print edition, Originally sold for $670

The market for Rokkaku’s paintings has exploded in recent years, and she is now the sixth best-selling Japanese artist, with a total sales value of $63.8 million achieved from the 825 works in 2022.

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Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled, 2022

Ayako Rokkaku’s artworks (including her prints!) are perhaps too expensive for most collectors now. So, it might be best to see if Masterworks, Yieldstreet, or Public have some fractional shares on offer. That is, unless you can spy out a bargain or can afford to shell out ~US$30K for a print without flinching.

Takashi Murakami

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Takashi Murakami, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 2017

Even if you are not too familiar with the art world, you will likely know the art of Takashi Murakami, whose work has achieved a level of mainstream fame. Takashi Murakami is a Japanese artist known for playing on the boundary between fine and commercial art, and is known for his signature “Superflat” aesthetic. He is often categorized alongside artists working in the tradition of Pop Art, such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons.

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Melting DOB Sculpture by Takashi Murakami, Edition Size: 300

The highest price ever paid for a Takashi Murakami work was achieved in May 2008, when My Lonesome Cowboy, a work inspired by an Andy Warhol film, sold for US$15.1 million, at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York.

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Takashi Murakami, My Lonesome Cowboy (1998) & Hiropon (1996)

Because Takashi Murakami is so prolific and produces so much non-investment grade goods, investors have to be weary of the artworks that are available at the lower end of the market. It is a similar concern that investors of Banksy, Haring, and Kusama have to contend with. The easiest option to avoid this risk is to only invest in artwork at the higher end of the market. Anything above US$5,000 from a reputable gallery is a safer option when it comes to investing in Murakami.

You May Also Like:

Check out Masterworks, Public, and Yieldstreet and explore Art Funds that let you purchase shares in million-dollar paintings from blue chip artists like Banksy, Kaws, and Yayoi Kusama.

Read more: Review: Masterworks vs. Yieldstreet
Read more: Review: Masterworks vs Public

We welcome you to Contact Us with any questions you have about investing in art. Let us know your budget, the kinds of art that interest you, and we can work out a plan to get you started with art collecting the right way.