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Posts Tagged ‘Lehman art collection’

Corporate art collecting in decline since the eighties – Wall Street Journal

Posted by artradar on October 17, 2008


CORPORATE COLLECTORS TREND

Corporations in distress sell art collections

Another bankrupt corporation, another corporate art collection on the block. Actually, no one quite knows what Lehman Brothers, the financial services firm that filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 15, will do with its 3,500-piece art collection, but with works by such bankable artists as Jasper Johns and Andreas Gurky, it is likely to be on sale at a major auction house near you.

Companies in trouble sell whatever can raise them money, and art collections are but one more asset. Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm brought down by the Enron scandal, for instance, turned two floors of its Chicago offices into a gallery showroom in 2002, selling more than 2,000 artworks over a five-day period. In 2006, the New York futures broker Refco Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection the previous year while under investigation for hiding $430 million in debt, sold 321 photographs for $9.7 million at Christie’s auction house over a three-day period.

“The major sales of corporate art collections that I’ve been involved with have been distressed situations,” said Joshua Holdeman, senior vice president at Christie’s, who in 2003 had also helped both Enron and Seagram sell artworks from their collections when he worked at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg. At other times, corporate consignors of art at the auction houses are not identified out of fear that the sale “may be seen as a sign of distress,” he said. “In the grand scale, of course, no one’s art collection will get it out of trouble.”

Mergers and acquisitions, office moves are other causes

Corporations get rid of their art collections for other reasons than doom and gloom, of course. Mergers and acquisitions bring in new leadership that simply doesn’t want the old stuff around. Or yesterday’s art doesn’t work in today’s new building.

Take Unilever. In 1982, the company had bought a 92-work collection of black-and-white museum-quality photographs for its then-new headquarters on Chicago’s Wells Street. Assembled quickly by an art consultant, the collection included such renowned photographers as Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, André Kertesz, Irving Penn and Alfred Stieglitz.

By 2003, however, the company was ready to move again to a somewhat smaller building on North Michigan Avenue, and so it was time for the art to go. “The old space was classical and elegant, with muted colors, and the black-and-white photographs worked,” said Jessica Jolly, facilities manager at Unilever. “The new building had a different design idea, and people wanted bright colors.” In fact, they didn’t want art at all but large-scale photographs of the company’s products splashed about on the walls. “We show images of Suave shampoo, Ragu bottles, tea packages — images employees can connect to.”

Deaccessioning by gift to public alternative to sale

To Unilever’s credit, the company held a public sale of the 92 photographs, raising $400,000 that was donated in full to the Marwen Foundation, which provides free art classes to Chicago’s disadvantaged youngsters in grades six through 12.

More recently, Altria, which had changed its name from Philip Morris Cos. in 2003, disposed of half of its 700-piece art collection when it relocated its headquarters to Richmond, Va., from New York City’s Park Avenue last March. “Our Richmond headquarters now features a lot of Virginia artists,” a spokesman said. The move ended the company’s 25-year-long relationship as a branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art, but its parting gift to the city was almost 200 works from its collection (featuring pieces by Jennifer Bartlett, Romare Bearden, Philip Guston, Betty Saar and Andy Warhol) to 10 institutions, including the Whitney, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and El Museo del Barrio.

Heyday of corporate collecting over

Once proud buyers of A-list art, corporations are taking a second look at collections. Amid the corporate downfalls and takeovers, we are seeing signs that the heyday of corporate art collecting is over, replaced increasingly by budget-priced decoration.

Volatility a cause

“The 1980s was the high point in corporate art collecting, but the crash at the end of the ’80s started the process of killing it off,” said David Galenson, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and the author of the 2006 book “Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity.” “Company executives found out that the art market could be a very volatile thing that they didn’t want to be part of.”

Astronomical prices another factor

Other factors contributed as well. The prices for top-flight art have risen to astronomical levels, draining corporate resources, and the type of art that is expected to appreciate in value “costs money to maintain, in terms of storage and climate control and state-of-the-art facilities in which to display it,” said Mary Lanier, former director of the Chase Manhattan Bank art collection and now a private corporate art adviser. Shareholders and board directors have less and less tolerance for major art expenditures, according to Princeton University economist Orley Ashenfelter, who noted that “firms, especially when the economy starts to sour, recognize their need to stick to their core business.” The result has been a 20-year-long disposal of one corporate art collection after another.

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Posted in Collectors, Corporate collectors, Market watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Financial meltdown impact on the art market – Time, Artinfo

Posted by artradar on September 22, 2008


ART MARKET RECESSION

At least for now, the US has managed to avert a complete collapse of the banking system permitting the press breathing space to ponder the potential impact of the financial crisis on businesses and individuals around the world.

How will the art market fare? The views are mixed.

From Indian art galleries to billionaire art collectors noone in the art market will be immune from the fallout claim some observers. Prices will alter, collections will change hands, art businesses will consolidate, change strategy or move. Others point out that art indices such as the Mei Moses index show that art has a low correlation with stock indices. But can you rely on art indices when art as an asset class is so illiquid and non homogenous compared with stocks goes the counterargument. According to Philip Hoffman of the Fine Art Fund a third of investible art assets is in the hands of just 20 or so very wealthy collectors providing some price protection. However others point out that the market is splitting and the upper end may have a different outlook to the lower end. 

Time will tell how events will unfold but in the meantime some press sources have started to report stories hinting at what they expect ahead.

Impact on Indian galleries – Time

It is easy to be dazzled and forget for a moment that India’s markets, like those around the globe, are in the throes of financial turmoil. But even here, worries are starting to surface reports Time. Mumbai is India’s financial capital, but it’s also the center of the country’s booming fashion industry and contemporary-arts community. Those three worlds feed each other here, just as they do in London, Tokyo and New York. As the markets plunge – the main Mumbai index, the Sensex, is down 36% since January – many of Mumbai’s wealthy financiers are beginning to spend less in the city’s galleries and luxury boutiques. “I’m extremely worried,” says Jai Bhandarkar, owner of an art gallery in Colaba, one of Mumbai’s toniest neighborhoods. “The spending power of the people who collect art is going to be affected. The art market has already gone down so much.”

The fate of Lehman’s art collection – Artinfo

Artinfo : When Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, it left out Neuberger Berman, its giant asset management unit and, according to Artnet, one of its “few profit-making divisions in recent months.” The investment bank is now taking bids for the unit – which includes an impressive corporate art collection – with five private equity firms reported as possible buyers: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Hellman & Friedman, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Bain Capital, and CVC Capital Partners.

Neuberger Berman was cofounded in 1939 by Roy Neuberger, whose name also graces the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York, established with the help of Nelson Rockefeller in 1974 so Neuberger could show off his collection. Neuberger Berman has had a fund since 1990 to buy works from “emerging to mid-career artists, with an emphasis on the former,” according to a press release for a 2004 touring show. That exhibition, “Crosscurrents at Century’s End: Selections from the Neuberger Berman Art Collection,” included pieces by such artists as Marlene Dumas, Andreas Gursky, Takashi Murakami, Neo Rauch, and Sam Taylor-Wood.

The firm is now reported to have some 600 works in its collection, which is displayed in its offices worldwide. It remains to be seen whether the new owner will keep the collection intact or sell the pieces off while the art market is strong.

Billionaire art collectors not immune – uTV

It is unlikely that art will retain its value in the current slump, despite the record-breaking Damien Hirst sale earlier this week says UTV Business News. This will come as a shock to Donald and Doris Fisher, the founders of the Gap clothing chain who returned to the Forbes Rich list in joint 377th place – on $1.3bn – thanks to their $1bn art collection which includes pieces by Chuck Close, Richard Serra and Alexander Calder.

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