Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.

Posts Tagged ‘art fund’

New art fund gives money to galleries in ground-breaking business model – Saatchi

Posted by artradar on October 26, 2008


It was two years ago that Kristina McLean, a Canadian-born financial analyst in her early 20s, left Morgan Stanley in order to enter the art world. Her research has indicated that there are some fifty funds worldwide, all of which buy and sell artworks and a few of which short Sotheby’s – Christie’s not being publicly held – or what they perceive as art-related stocks as a kind of hedge.McLean’s thinking is quite different. The Art Bridge Finance Group won’t be cutting out dealers by buying art and squirreling it away. The fund will be investing in cutting-edge mostly young galleries. “What I am doing is I’m giving them a bridge loan,” she told me some months ago. “The loan is to enable the gallery to buy art from their artists and to fund their projects. It used to be that you would find an underknown artist, usually young, buy in and wait for them to rocket to the skies. You can’t wait. You have to actively do something. That’s what I think. A good way of doing that is aligning yourself with the right gallery.”

What McLean is trying here is more radical than it may at first sound. It’s a counter-attack against the blue chip, often multi-national mega-gallerists that have been vastly increasing their power in the art world and which tend to use the smaller galleries as so many fish farms, pools from which they can snatch attractive prospects at their leisure.

“The smaller galleries are pushing the artist into that first group show … maybe a first solo show … maybe a tiny museum show somewhere. And then suddenly they get poached by these bigger galleries,” McLean says. “So instead of helping galleries where I could just give them cash, if I help the younger galleries I can add a lot more value than just money. In the early stage it’s developing goodwill with the gallery. And working on smaller projects in order to establish relationships. Which might only become fruitful for me, investment-wise, in a couple of years. I’m going to leave the expertise in the hands of people who really know what they are doing. And the people who are adding value. And that, ultimately, is the gallery. And I think that, coming from a finance perspective, where everything is about adding value, and activist investing, and things like that, I think that I can add most value to younger emerging galleries.”

This value will include access to the collectors and institutions that McLean has cultivated. And she plans to target them precisely. “I’ll do extensive research to develop a sense of who the client base is. Are they willing to pay what the work will end up costing? ”

This is not, of course, a cultural equivalent of pro bono. If the Art Bridge Finance Group puts up the capital for an entire project, they will expect half the profits, if any. Otherwise, she will work things out on a case by case basis.


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India has the most speculative art market in the world says Philip Hoffman, The Fine Art Fund – Business Standard

Posted by artradar on September 11, 2008


“Hoffman is something of a poster boy for art funds, and for the entire “art as an alternative asset class” discourse, doing annual trade of $120-130 million every year through the five funds he manages” says Business Standard. Fine Art Fund I – the first of these that he announced in 2003 to invest in museum quality art – is the longest-running and most successful art fund globally, having announced last year an average annualised returns on assets sold of 44 per cent. 

Indian Fine Art Fund established 2008

Earlier this year he established a $25 million Indian Fine Art Fund which explains Hoffman’s presence at the India’s first art fair, The Indian Art Summit held August 2008 and “the buzz of excitement that follows his tall, brown-suited figure as he goes around the stalls, jotting down notes in his little notepad”. He made some investments, not very huge, but which artists and how much he does not reveal. “I was reviewing some of the works we bought six months ago,” he says, sipping his coffee in a very businesslike fashion. “They’re up 50 per cent and these are only mid-auction estimates. But then it is not unusual in these markets to make 100 per cent, 200 per cent, or even 300 per cent returns. But we are not buying emerging artists at $2,000 or $1,000. It’s a very risky game at that stage.”

The India fund has managed to attract around a hundred investors, mostly “cash-rich European individuals and a few London hedge funders managers”, Hoffman reveals, even though SEBI’s regulatory guidelines on investment in art funds did discourage some Indian banks from investing in the fund. “I think some of the Indian art is great. But you know my reputation is that quite often I’ll spend less than 30 seconds looking at a work of art on which we will spend $ 3 million.” The decision to buy or not to buy, Hoffman says, is made by 30 professionals – “who between them have 400 years of expertise”.

Indian market speculative

Hoffman marvels at the what he calls the “entrepreneurial” spirit of Indian consumers of art. “Of all the art markets in the world, this one is the most speculative. India has the most art funds in the world. If there is a market and money to be made, you guys are very fast at it, faster than the rest of the world.”  It might be wonderful but it also leads to instability, Hoffman seems to imply, because there are few serious collectors and more of those who “buy now only to sell on the way home”.

Lack of institutions a problem

The problem is also one of the lack of institutions to widen interest and cultivate tastes in art. “Unlike in New York, where curators have decided that Picasso is important or London where taste-makers have decided Rembrandt and Titian are going to be there until posterity, in India the names are constantly changing. Yes, five to seven names are constantly mentioned but there’s no unanimity,” he says draining the last of the coffee. “Look at the Middle East,” Hoffman says, “where Abu Dhabi is coming up with a cultural centre that’ll cost $30 billion. Imagine how much their curatorial direction will influence the market when that centre is up?” Indeed, more than China or India, Hoffman seems upbeat about the prospects of Middle East art, not the least because unlike the other art markets, “it is still mostly people from the Middle East who are investing in Middle Eastern art”.

But don’t lose heart says the Business Standard- “In the long term, India is a one-way horse,” Hoffman predicts. “It has a long way to go.”

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Posted in Acquisitions, Art Funds, Fairs, India, Indian, Market watch, Middle Eastern | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Singapore based NY Art fund seeks $100 million

Posted by artradar on June 3, 2008

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Meridian Art Partners, a New York-based investor, plans to raise $100 million by the end of the year for a fund investing in contemporary art from Asia and other emerging markets, The Straits Times reported on Wednesday.

The Singapore daily quoted one of Meridian’s partners, Roman Scott, as saying that it was looking to raise half of the targeted funds from rich Asian investors and would store a large part of its Asian art collection in Singapore.
The minimum investment would be $250,000, it said.

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Source: Reuters via India Art News


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