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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 Funds’

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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Global downturn will not affect art market says Hoffman, The Fine Art Fund – Business Standard

Posted by artradar on September 15, 2008

MARKET WATCH The art market will not be affected by the vicissitudes of the global economy Philip Hoffmann chief executive of The Fine Art Fund said to the Business Standard at the August 2008 Indian Art Summit. “The trading in art only looks to the economy of the super-rich,” he cites the example of Russian billionaire Abramovich spending close to $100 million just this year to pick up a few Freuds and Bacons (at record-breaking prices) to furnish his new house. “The total art market is worth around $30-50 billion, of which only about $15-20 billion is investible. And of this, only 20 individuals account for $2-4 billion worth of art.”

Nevertheless, Hoffman feels, that art investment is best left to the super rich. “Our minimum investor typically puts in around a quarter of a million dollars; and our typical investor is usually one who’s put in a million to five million dollars. I don’t advise anyone with modest wealth to invest in art. Unless he’s putting in less than 5 per cent of his money into art, he shouldn’t do it.”

Hoffman does annual trade of $120-130 million every year through the five funds he manages.  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. 

Hoffman claims that he never buys any art for himself though. “I trained as a chartered accountant. I was working with KPMG [in their audit practice] when I was recommended as finance director of Christie’s. I had no interest in the arts whatsoever.” He went on to become deputy managing director of the auction house’s European business and later, managing the old masters’ division. At 33, he was member of Christie’s International Managing Board, the youngest ever.

So what makes the art world go round? What is it that determines whether a painting will sell for $1,000 or for $1 million? “It’s simple economics – rarity and some amount of marketing, even if it happened hundreds of years ago. Take Canaletto. He was commissioned by the Queen to paint important British monuments. The queen herself had 20 or so of them and the rich men decided that if the queen had something they wanted it as well, and so on. It’s the same today, you hang a Gupta on the wall and it’s like hanging bank-notes on the wall or putting your bank statement on the table. I’m worth millions, it says.”

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