The Fine Line between Collecting and Hoarding


In a day when art objects are considered part of an investor’s portfolio (especially for high net worth individuals acquiring assets of $20 to $30 million and above), over collecting can become an issue. Too much invested in art can mean too little placed in other financial assets, resulting in an unbalanced portfolio.
If this happens, some might call this collector is overenthusiastic. Others might term her or him obsessive or even a hoarder.
A research team at King’s College London is looking into these differences.
Ashley Keller, a PhD candidate researching hoarding at King’s College, believes there are certain characteristics that distinguish hoarding from collecting. The biggest difference is levels of organization: collectors engage in “ritualistic behavior around organizing their items,” she explains, “whereas with our hoarders we see a much more indiscriminate acquisition process, and this emphasis on organization just isn’t there.”
The second distinguishing feature is distress.
“Most of the collectors we see are enjoying their behavior even when they’re acquiring quite a bit… Whereas for hoarders, while they may enjoy getting the items and they may enjoy talking about an individual item, the overall behavior is very destructive and it’s very unpleasant for them.”
However, one of the most intriguing findings from the research on hoarders and collectors at King’s College was that collectors tend to have larger property sizes than hoarders. Keller says that there are two conflicting interpretations for this.

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