In London last week, auction houses Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips raised about $340 million from sales of post-war and contemporary art. That's a 26 percent increase from the equivalent series of sales last summer, according to The New York Times. In March, they pulled in a combined $1.6 billion in a series of sales in New York.
Ross said he started buying art because he liked it, but recently it's become a rather profitable passion.
"We collect surrealistic paintings," the WL Ross chairman said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "I think if you deal with distressed companies, you ought to collect surrealism."
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Art used to be the kind of asset that investors had to hold on to for while to make money. But right now, many rich collectors are buying and selling more often and making a killing, said Ross, who favors the work of surrealist Rene Magritte.
He said it's popular among "the young hedge fund" crowd and private investors in the U.S., China, Russia and Mideast. In some cases, "20-plus people are bidding on one object and that is a lot."