Art as investment is a tricky business. Stocks and bonds have cash flows that can be projected and discounted to arrive at a theoretical value. Even commodities are subject to supply and demand curves. Art is altogether more nebulous.

In a realm where beauty is purely in the eye of the beholder, specialists have the advantage. That’s one reason why most investors probably aren’t delighted to learn that their small-cap property company or communications device maker has been dabbling in the market.

Shareholders of Singapore’s MYP Ltd. might never have known that their company had bought "Monkey Train (Blue),” a 2007 work by American artist Jeff Koons, had the property investor not decided that "plant and equipment” wasn’t the ideal place in its accounts to record a contemporary oil painting of a smiling simian. The company reclassified the piece under "other assets” in its 2020 results, prompting a flurry of questions from the city’s exchange operator last July.