12/21/2011 01:07 pm ET

Investing In Art: Hirst, Warhol Outperform S&P 500 As Artists Deemed Better Investments Than Stocks

If you ever find yourself choosing between some Warhols or a few stocks, we're here to make that decision easier. A new study has found that artwork by Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol vastly outperformed the S&P 500 over the past decade.

Bloomberg Businessweek has the scoop, and the numbers are very impressive. The value of Hirst's pieces have increased almost threefold since 2002, and Warhol's have risen fourfold in the same period.

The value of both artists' work has slipped since 2007, but Warhol's are back on the rise. Over the same period, the S&P 500 increased 7 percent.

Artnet provided the analysis as a way for those looking for alternatives to traditional investment to have some sense of reliability. Artnet's CEO, Hans Neuendorf, told Businessweek that the idea was inspired by the stock market, where the performance of companies is viewed individually and may vary widely. "Art has been a good investment over the past 10 years, but there are big differences in performance among artists," Neuendorf said. "It's more interesting to look at individual artists, in the same way that you look at stock-market segments, or individual companies."

So which other artists have stayed strong? Artnet's findings reveal Roy Lichtenstein, L.S. Lowry, Clyfford Still and Gerhard Richter as among the record-setting artists. In 2007, Hirst's works were selling for an average price of $901,214, but that was a year before he sold $126.6 million worth of art in a single auction. In a twist that nicely encapsulates the shift from traditional forms of investment towards the art world, the auction was held on the day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.

A similar trend is sweeping the upper echelons of Asia, with many investors turning away from the relative chaos of markets and instead amassing massive collections of Eastern art. Reuters notes that Asian art market turnover jumped 300 percent between 2009 and 2010, buoyed in large party by an emphasis on Hong Kong collectors.