Economy Forcing Corporate Sell Out of Art

Will tough times trigger corporate art selloff?

By JILL LAWLESS (AP) – 1 day ago

LONDON — Corporations worried about the bottom line are taking a look at their office walls. Over decades, many of the world’s wealthiest banks and companies have built up art collections, rich in modern masters, that are the envy of many museums. Now, some are selling off works that adorn offices and boardrooms — some from choice, but others to pay off hungry creditors.

The latter category includes collapsed bank Lehman Brothers, whose multimillion-dollar collection of works by Damien Hirst, Gerhard Richter and others is going under the hammer next month. “Over the last five or six years we’ve dealt with more and more corporate as well as private clients,” said Saul Ingram, head of European corporate art services at Sotheby’s auction house.

“Obviously there have been economic changes in the last couple of years, and I think that has heralded a change in attitudes — that these collections need to be trimmed, to focus on quality.”

Cathy Elkies, head of private and corporate collections at Christie’s, also says she has seen an increase in the corporate side of the business, and expects it to continue.

“In some cases, organizations are editing and refocusing their collections,” she said. “Others are looking to completely divest themselves of their art offerings.”

This picture provided by Sotheby's shows an untitled 2001 work by Julie Mehretu, which will be one of more than 400 works from the corporate contemporary art collection of the failed investment bank Lehman Brothers that will go on sale at auction this fall.

Corporations collect art for a variety of reasons, of which turning a profit is often the least important. Some companies like to see supporting emerging artists as a form of corporate social responsibility, or philanthropy — works can be lent to museums and galleries for shows.

To read more of this article go to: The Associated Press

Associated Press Writers Ula Ilnytzky in New York and Melissa Eddy in Berlin contributed to this report.

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About Art Collecting and Investment

Providing news about art collectors, collections and investments. Including the how to's, the why's and the where's of art collecting. Wanda Pepin, Christina Madden and Elaine Frenett are all professional artists who keep up on the world of art, while creating amazing works of art themselves.
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