Series or Edition

The Huffington Post ran an interesting article on an artist's ability to create multiples of the same image or painting. Works in a similar style may be categorized as a series, although art law does not define the term series, while "limited edition" is defined in many state laws surrounding multiples.

The Huffington Post reports
A quirky question, but let's ask it anyway: If an artist decided to paint the same picture more than once -- say, Andrew Wyeth chose to do another "Christina's World" -- would that be legal? Paintings are supposed to be unique works of art, after all. The question arises because some artists do become known for a particular image. Collectors want that picture and nothing else will seem to do.

As a matter of law, artists would seem to be in the clear. "As long as the artist owns the copyright to the original, there is no violation of law. There is no law to break," said Donn Zaretsky, a New York City lawyer. Collectors may still be displeased if they find that their painting is not unique but exists elsewhere, he noted, but that is more a failure of their responsibility to do "due diligence" than of the artist to be original. Collectors would likely respond to identical artworks by paying less for each. "This sort of thing is more likely to be policed by the market than by the courts."

In the days before art prints became so widely available, it was not uncommon for artists to simply paint the same image a second or third (or fourth) time, in order that more people could own their work (or to correct an error in the first go-round). Leonardo da Vinci's "Madonna of the Rocks" in London and "Virgin of the Rocks" in Paris have identical compositions but were completed 20 years apart. Even in our own day, well-regarded artists produce pieces that look quite similar, perhaps again so that as many collectors who want a work may acquire one. Think of all the Jim Dine paintings of robes or Picasso's etchings of randy minotaurs or the countless Mark Rothkos with one color on top of another color. It is by a particular style and subject matter that we recognize the work of a specific artist, so pursuing the same theme again and again is not technically redoing a subject but working in a series. The law does not define the word "series," but the art print disclosure laws existing in a majority of states around the country define "limited edition" with reference to multiples.

The only time that an artist might get on the wrong side of the law when painting the same image more than once is if he or she intentionally misled collectors (or dealers) about the uniqueness of a particular artwork. Frank Stella's 1960 painting, "Marquis de Portago," owned by California collectors Donald and Lynn Factor, was damaged in 1963 while on loan to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the curator walked into the canvas). Stella was asked about restoring it but, after it was returned to his studio, told the museum and collectors that it was beyond repair, so he painted a new version for the Factors. However, he did eventually restore the damaged one, selling it to Massachusetts collectors Ann and Graham Gund in 1965. When the Factors brought their "Marquis de Portago" to the Parke-Bernet auction house in 1970, they discovered that theirs was not the only version in existence -- in fact, there was also a third. The Factors sought a reserve price at the auction of $35,000 but, because of the other similar paintings, the reserve was lowered to $15,000, and their Stella sold for only $17,000. They brought a lawsuit against the artist, which had a mixed result, finding the Stella negligent in informing the Factors of what he had done yet assessing no damages.
Source: Huffington Post 


Master Class in Art Market Performance and Valuation - May 9th NYC

On May 9th, at the Deloitte NY headquarters boardroom at 30 Rockefeller Center, Beautiful Asset Advisors developers of the Mei Moses Fine Art Indexes will hold a one-day Master Class in Art Market Performance and Valuation.

The one-day program will be instructed by Michale Moses, co-founder of Mei Moses family of art indexes. In addition to Michael Moses, Professor Pepe Carmel of the NYU Art History Department will also present on art connoisseurship.

What makes this program so unique and opportune is the time set aside to visit the auction houses which will be preparing for the major May contemporary art sales.  Christie's is only a short walk from the Deloitte boardroom. The Master Class participants will be supplied with a list of works that can be viewed to develop mark to market valuations. For example, Christie's will offer at its Rockefeller Center location, in a special Monday night sale, Picasso's Les Femmes de Alger which has been widely reported in the press to have a pre-sale estimate of about $130 million and, importantly for Master Class attendees, has a prior auction price. The discussion (and viewing) of this important Picasso work will certainly be a highlight of the class.

As appraisers, we look and comparable properties and then make adjustments based upon time frame, market trends as well as other factors.  This Master Class on art market performance and valuation will discuss many instances and circumstances where value is impacted.

For example many collectors, as well as appraisers have questions on what impacts value, such as:
  • impact of size on value
  • does a signature matter
  • should I only buy high priced works
  • should I pay above the auction house estimate
  • how long should I hold the work
  • do certain artist outperform the market
  • does the relative importance of a work matter.
  •  judge the reasonableness of the proposed change in price implied by the auction house price estimate for a work coming up for sale compared to the previous auction price of the same item.
The Master Class in Art Market Performance and Valuation will answer those questions based upon historical repeat sales data. The descriptive data points also include analysis based upon the size of the work, if the work is signed and/or dated, medium, how often exhibited, cited in the press and offered at auction.  When all of these descriptive data points are collected and analyzed, the Mei Moses art indexes are able to calculate a true financial rate of return over time. The Master Class will explain this process and how to use it for specific purposes such as investment or appraisal valuations.

As many readers of the AW Blog know, I have long been a proponent of using indexed valuation data to support a market analysis in appraisal reports and specifically those generated by Mei Moses. Indexed market trends, mark to market conclusions and financial annual return data, when used properly along with other research and valuation content can be incorporated into appraisal reports to support value conclusions.

Many experienced appraisers are looking for new and sophisticated approaches to value along with educational opportunities beyond the basics which are represented in general course books and appraisal text, conference, and webinars. As many appraisers are aware, there are very few choices when it comes to complex and mulit-layered programs being offered for senior appraisers who regularly deal with advanced valuations and unconventional assignments. This Master Class in Art Market Performance and Valuation certainly offers the type of sophistication and progressive proficiency which will assist senior appraisers for years to come.

Click HERE for the full course outline. Keep in mind the class size is limited and May 9th is fast approaching.  In addition to appraisers, I can also see collectors, wealth managers, insurance adjusters, art law professionals, trust and estate professionals, galleriests, and the art market trade press interested in such a program.

Beautiful Assets Advisors and Mei Moses report on the Master Class 

For more than 20 years we at Beautiful Asset Advisors® LLC have been collecting, repeat sale, data on objects that have sold at least twice at public auction. Over that time period we have amassed a data base of over 45,000 of these repeat sale pairs. We use the basic price and date information to produce our family of nine Mei Moses® art indexes. We provide indexes representing four world wide collecting categories, (old master, impressionist and modern, post war and contemporary and traditional Chinese works of art) three indexes for regional collecting categories (American, British and Latin American); and an annual and semi-annul world all art index.

The indexes help us understand art market financial performance from 1810 until the present and allow us to compare this performance to that of equities, bonds, materials, and inflation. These indexes can also be used in wealth management decisions. They can be used as part of an optimal asset allocation process which includes art so that a portfolio can be built that matches the risk-return desires of the individual collector/investor.

But indexes do not help the potential collector/investor determine which object to buy and what might be a reasonable price to pay for the object. Most individuals, have questions such as: does size matter, does a signature matter, should I only buy high priced works, should I pay above the auction house estimate, how long should I hold the work, do certain artist outperform, does the relative importance of a work matter.

In addition to these questions potential buyers would also like to be able to judge the reasonableness of the proposed change in price implied by the auction house price estimate for a work coming up for sale compared to the previous auction price of the same item.

Our data collection philosophy over the years has been an expansive one. In addition to price and date of a work of art we collect all the data in an auction catalog description of a work that we can categorize. We include artist, size, whether the work is signed/dated, what medium was used, how often has it been on exhibition, how often has it been cited in the press, and how often has it been offered at public auction.

The price and date information allow us to calculate a true financial return over time for each object. The additional information allows us to calculate how each descriptive parameter affects that return and thus allows us to answer the questions posed above at both the world wide and collecting category levels and at the individual artist level for those with very active auction intensity.

Our indexes and database have been used in research articles published in leading academic journals such as the American Economic Review, The Journal of Finance, The Rand Journal and won best paper in the Investment Management Consulting Association Journal in 2008. Our research has also been used by many financial firms in reports to their clients on asset class performance. The results of our research have also been published in thousands of articles that have appeared in the financial press.

Now we want to summarize what we have learned and communicate our findings. We decided that the best way would be in an interactive environment with a small group of interested art market participants in a one day intensive master class on art market performance and valuation. We feel that this course would be unique for three reasons.

First, it will answer the questions posed above and additional questions generated by participants based on our proprietary indexes and database;

Second, it will use market and artist-based historical performance results to develop an independent estimate of the value of works that are coming up for sale at the major spring auction this May and that have sold previously at auction;

Third, while our skills are quantitative, we feel that the best valuation estimate must additionally include a qualitative dimension. We have therefore included in the course outline time for a lecture on connoisseurship, to be delivered by Professor Pepe Carmel of the NYU art history department. In addition time will be available for visits to the major auction houses so that the students can see first hand some of the works, at all price levels, discussed during the connoisseurship lecture.

The course will be delivered at the state of the art boardroom of Deloitte LLP at Center. This generous use of their space, perfectly suited for 40 participants, continues the firm's dedication to fostering a better understanding of the art market though their annual research conferences. The most recent conference was a part of the 2015 Armory Show in New York. Despite a raging snowstorm, the room was almost full to capacity, a testament to the high reputation of their conferences and the quality of the invited panelists.

Michael Moses, co-founder and developer of the Mei Moses family of art indexes, will deliver the 2 morning and 2 late afternoon sessions on the following topics: comparative financial performance, wealth management including art, strategic issues which affect returns and market based valuation of works coming up at the current auctions at all price levels. The participants' will be supplied with a list of works that can be viewed during the auction house visits for which we will develop a mark to market valuation during the last session of the day. The course outline and time schedule is attached.

The one- day fee is $1,250 including the lectures and valuation information. A discounted fee of $1,000 is being offered to premium members of our website www.artasanasset.com. The class will take place on May 9, 2015 the weekend prior to the major Post War and Contemporary auction sales. Prior registration and payment is required via the previously mentioned website. Just click on the first item on the left hand side tool bar of the website home page and follow the instructions. Building security requires photo identification so please use the name on your I.D. when you register.
Source: Beautiful Asset Advisors 


Online Art Trade Report

Hiscox and ArtTactic just released their 3rd edition of the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report for 2015. The report has some impressive statistics, noting the online art market has grown from $1.57 billion in 2013 to $2.64 billion in 2014, with some expecting the growth to reach $6.3 billion by 2019. That is a lot of growth, and at the same time, a lot of potential opportunity for personal property appraisers.

The reports notes that 84% of the sales are below 10,000 GBP or about $15,000, social media is considerably assisting in sales, and having a physical location is less important.

The highlights from the report (click the source link below to download the full 39 page report)
ArtTactic is delighted to present the 3rd edition of the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015. The study confirms the trend for ‘click and buy’ is gathering steam as buying art becomes an omni-channel experience.


  • According to the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015, the value of the online art market has risen from $1.57 billion in 2013 to an estimated $2.64 billion in 2014. Based on these figures, online art buying therefore accounts for 4.8%of the estimated $55.2 billion value of the global art market. On the same growth trajectory, the value of the online art market could reach $6.3 billion in 2019.
  • Investment return is a growing motivation for online art buyers, with as many as 63% driven to purchase by a piece’s potential return on investment.
  • The bulk of online transactions still take place below £10,000, with 84% of purchases made within this price point.
  • Online art market platforms are providing options when it comes to how buyers engage with and ultimately buy art – having a physical gallery or auction house has become less important but is not redundant.
  • Social media affects art buying decisions, with 24% of respondents saying posts by museums, galleries and artist studios had a direct influence on their art buying decisions.
Source: ArtTactic 


Porvenance Premium

The Antiques Trade Gazette has a short, but good post on the recent purchase by the Charles Dickens Museum to purchase the desk of Charles Dickens.  The article notes the author wrote Great Expectations and the Mystery of Edwin Drood on this particular desk.

The desk sold for 780,000 GBP, which converts to about $1.164 million. Looking at the desk, it does not appear to be very valuable with most of the value being the connection to the famous author.

This is a good example to file away regarding premiums for provenance.

The ATG reports
The writing desk and chair used by Charles Dickens as he penned a number of his later classics have been bought by a museum based at the author’s former central London home.

A grant of just over £780,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund allowed the Charles Dickens Museum to make the purchase. The sum is almost double the £433,250 paid in 2008 when the desk and chair sold on behalf of the Great Ormond Street Charitable Trust at Christie's.

They had been donated to the hospital by the Dickens family. The museum said the items could have been resold at auction had they not raised the money needed. They are on display at the museum at 48 Doughty Street, where Dickens lived from 1837-39.

The mid 19th century mahogany desk and walnut chair were part of the furnishings of Gad's Hill Place in Kent where the author wrote Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Source: Antiques Trade Gazette 


Christie's Consolidating May Auction Schedule

The NY Times reports on Christie's decision to move its Impressionist/Modern evening sales from the first week of May to the second.  This is the same weed the Contemporary/Post War sales take place.  Sotheby's is staying with the traditional schedule.

So in the first week of May there will only be one major evening sale, the Sotheby's Impressionist/Moder sale. Week two, according to the NY Times article will have 5 evening sales including speciality sales. Some of the rationale for the change has to do with new trends in buying habits, accommodating buyers during one week instead of two, and drawing more attention with the multiple sales. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

The NY Times reports

At first glance, it seems a simple thing: This year, Christie’s has decided to hold its Impressionist and Modern art evening auction in the second week of May, not the first, as it usually does.

But this change in the traditional New York auction calendar has set off a chain of reactions, with some art-market insiders applauding the move and others suggesting that it threatens to be disruptive.

The only evening sale during the first week of May, traditionally the opening of the spring auction season in Manhattan, will be an auction of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s on May 5.

But the second auction week will be quite crowded. There will be five evening auctions, beginning Monday, May 11, with a special Christie’s evening sale that includes Modern and contemporary art.

On Thursday, May 14, there will be two auctions on the same night, creating a rare conflict for collectors who want to attend the Christie’s Impressionism and Modern art sale at 5:30 p.m. and still make it to a Phillips sale of contemporary art at 7 p.m.

“Fatigue may have set in by then, but it is very hard to predict,” said David Nash, a New York gallerist and former Sotheby’s executive.

Christie’s said that it made the move to stage its contemporary and Modern sales in the same week in order to avoid a clash with the Venice Biennale, the annual art exhibition in Italy that draws many collectors, and added that the change would accommodate those who pursue art from several periods, a group that the auction house says is a growing sector of the market.

“It is very much what collectors are doing today,” Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie’s, said. “They are looking at 100 years of art rather than 50.”

He added, “It is a generational shift.”

Sotheby’s said it saw no reason to change the date of its Impressionism and Modern art sale, even though it will now be the only night auction that week.

Sotheby’s will hold its contemporary auction a week afterward, as usual.

“We are looking forward to a busy exhibition period and a full salesroom on the night of May 5,” said Simon Shaw, co-head of the Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art department.

Richard L. Feigen, a Manhattan dealer, said that the rescheduling made sense to accommodate foreign buyers who want to visit New York for a shorter period of time, and added that he, too, was seeing “a real smudging in the line between Modern and contemporary” in collectors’ tastes.

“I can understand people buying a Picasso might also be in the market for a Rothko,” Mr. Feigen said.

Some experts wonder whether buyers will bother to show up for the first week, even though there will be a schedule of day sales, while others worry that collectors may not be in a buying mood by the end of the second.

The Christie’s auction of Impressionist and modern art had originally been scheduled for the first week of May, and that was still the plan when specialists for the auction house secured some of their finest consignments, including the collection of Goldman Sachs executive John C. Whitehead, who died in February, which includes works by Modigliani and Monet.

But Achim Moeller, the New York dealer who advised Mr. Whitehead and his estate, said he was not concerned by the auction’s move to the second week.

“It was a good idea to do so, because you are going to have an entire week dedicated to evening sales, and that of course will draw a lot of attention from the international world onto Christie’s,” he said. “People who focus on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will also focus on Thursday.”

He added: “You can’t tell me that if Sotheby’s has a Monet the week before that the potential buyers of Monet will not also look at Monet on Thursday. Very often people are on the phone anyway.”

Christie’s said it had consulted with all consignors before changing the date, and none had withdrawn their works.

Michael Plummer, a principal and co-founder of Artvest Partners, an art advisory company, said cross-collecting was a trend that justified the shift by Christie’s. He has organized an art fair, Spring Masters, that is based on the same concept. The fair, at the Park Avenue Armory from May 8-12, will feature dealers selling works spanning some 2,000 years — a first-century Roman bust alongside 14th-century Italian paintings and 21st-century works.

Mr. Plummer said that of late, older works have typically been undervalued as the industry has obsessed over the boom in contemporary art.

“People buy across periods,” he said. “Rather than spending half a million dollars on a piece of sculpture that is 10 years old, you can spend a similar amount or less on something 2,000 years old.”
Source: The NY Times


FBI Pressures Man About the Gardner Heist

The NY Times is reporting the FBI have arrested a 79 year Hartford CT man in poor health on a gun charge.  The attorney for the man claims the FBI is doing this in order to make him talk and real reveal information about the Gardner heist. The article states this is the second "sting" against the man in three years and the charges are being used to compel him to talk. The man's attorney states his client does not have information or knowledge on the theft.

The NY Times reports
Federal agents trying to solve the biggest art theft in the nation’s history arrested a 79-year-old Hartford man on Friday after conducting their second sting against him in three years to force him to disclose the whereabouts of $500 million in stolen art, the man’s lawyer said.

The suspect, Robert V. Gentile, was arrested by F.B.I. agents on charges of selling a .38 Colt cobra revolver on March 2 to an unidentified man who was acting as a confidential informant for the authorities. Investigators say Mr. Gentile, who has been on probation as a result of a 2013 conviction that was part of the first Federal Bureau of Investigation sting against him, received $1,000 for the sale.

Mr. Gentile’s lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, said his client knew nothing about the art theft, which occurred 25 years ago at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and included works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Officials investigating the robbery have said in recent weeks that they thought Mr. Gentile remained their strongest lead in the frustrating case because most of the men they had identified as suspects in the robbery were dead.

“It’s the same F.B.I. guys doing the same thing as last time,” Mr. McGuigan said. “They won’t stop squeezing my client.”

Federal officials refused to comment on the arrest Friday. But at a hearing in United States District Court in Hartford, a federal prosecutor, John Durham, said that investigators had a recent recording of Mr. Gentile discussing the sale of some of the stolen paintings.

Mr. Gentile was first imprisoned in May 2013 after he was convicted on federal charges of weapons possession and illegal sale of prescription narcotics. He was sentenced to 30 months and released on probation after serving one year because of his poor health.

After his first arrest, Mr. Gentile told officials he had no knowledge about the whereabouts of the 13 pieces of art stolen from the Gardner Museum on March 18, 1990. Investigators dug through his property and underneath a shed in his backyard looking for clues to the theft, and found what appeared to be a price list for each of the items.

At the time, Mr. McGuigan said, the authorities said they would drop the charges against Mr. Gentile and even grant him some of the $5 million in reward money if he told them the location of the stolen art. Mr. McGuigan said it would be “illogical” for his client to withhold information with so much reward money at stake. Prosecutors later said that Mr. Gentile performed poorly in a lie-detector test when questioned about the theft.

Mr. McGuigan said that in court on Friday, he and Mr. Gentile again adamantly denied that Mr. Gentile had any information about the crime. Mr. McGuigan said his client had diabetes and required a wheelchair. He questioned why Mr. Gentile was arrested on Friday during a visit to his parole officer when the alleged gun sale occurred more than six weeks earlier.

“If he’s such a danger to the community,” he said, “why did they wait so long to take him in?” Mr. McGuigan said the two F.B.I. special agents who arrested his client on Friday are the same men who offered Mr. Gentile a deal on the Gardner case in 2012. The agents, Geoff Kelly and James Lawton, are the lead agents on the Gardner investigation, according to the F.B.I.

In an interview in March, Mr. Kelly said he remained convinced that Mr. Gentile, a reputed member of organized crime, had knowledge of the art through longtime underworld associates in Philadelphia.

Mr. Gentile will be back in court on Monday after spending the weekend in jail, his lawyer said, adding that the weapons charge carried a prison term of 10 years and that he would accuse the F.B.I. of entrapment.
Source: The New York Times 


Rules for Investing in Art

Bloomberg has an article which lists some rules for investing from the perspective of an art collector. The main  points mentioned for investing in art include dont look for the quick profit, invest for the long term, be patient, focus on specific areas of style or mediums, and lend and exhibit works when possbile.

Bloomberg reports
Bob Rennie is a buy-and-hold kind of guy.

At 18, he scraped together $375 to buy his first artwork, a print by Norman Rockwell. Now 58, the Vancouver real-estate entrepreneur has a private museum that houses his collection of more than 1,400 works. He still owns the Rockwell and says he’ll never part with it.

For the growing number of wealthy investors who are entering the art market, Rennie offers a few rules: Diversify the portfolio, buy for the long term and cultivate connoisseurship.

“We can’t pretend that art is not an asset,” Rennie said last month as he walked through the Armory Show, the largest contemporary art fair in New York. “It has to be managed.”

The founder of Rennie Marketing Systems, a real estate sales, marketing and risk management company, estimates that a third of his art holdings rise in value “astronomically.” Another third barely keeps up with bank rates, he said, and one third was purchased as an intellectual pursuit and is unlikely to rise in value. About 140 works represent 75 percent of the total value of his collection.

“At the time of the acquisition, you don’t know which one is which,” he said, referring to the three groupings.

In 2009, Rennie opened a private museum in the oldest building of Vancouver’s Chinatown district. Operating the museum and managing the collection of about 200 artists including John Baldessari, Mike Kelley and Christopher Wool costs $75,000 a month, he said. He regularly lends to public museums and has sold only five artworks in the past 10 years, he said.

Quick Profit
Rennie’s experience may hold a lesson for the increasing number of wealthy investors seeking a quick profit from surging prices for contemporary works. The Artnet C50 Index, which combines performance data of top 50 postwar and contemporary artists, rose 170 percent from 2004 to 2014. During the same period, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index gained 85 percent.

“He is a prescient collector,” Madeleine Grynsztejn, the Pritzker Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, said about Rennie. “When he commits he really commits.”

Kerry James Marshall is one 40 artists Rennie collects “in depth,” meaning he owns at least 20 works by each, spanning the artist’s entire career. He was so enamored with Marshall’s painting “Garden Party” that he waited 10 years to buy it.

Marshall started the painting, which depicts a summer gathering at his Chicago backyard, in 2003. In the ensuing years, demand for his work surged, along with his prices.

Very Patient
“Every time he saw Kerry, Bob would mention the painting and how much he would love to own it,” said Jack Shainman, whose New York gallery has represented Marshall since 1993.

Rennie’s patience paid off, in the form of a discount. In 2012 Shainman sold him the work at the 2006 price of $450,000. Its current market value is more than $1 million.

“Selling to the Rennie collection is like selling to a museum,” said Shainman. “You don’t have to worry about him flipping anything.”

Rennie said he has an acquisition budget, declining to specify the amount. To be sure, sometimes his rules turn out to be guidelines.

“I probably exceed it by three times each year,” he said of his budget. “Something always comes up that you must have.”
Like a group of three paintings by Marshall, each 8-feet-tall and 18-feet-wide, that he glimpsed on a 2012 visit to the artist’s studio. The palette of the three works forms a giant Afro-American flag. He knew the trio had to remain together.
“Nobody is going to do that,” Rennie recalled Marshall telling him. “Too big and too much.”

Four Areas
The asking price was substantial: more than $1 million, which was the upper end of Rennie’s budget. His collection focuses on four central areas: social injustice, appropriation, painting and photography. Marshall’s trio was painting; it incorporated social commentary and appropriated elements of other artists’ works.

“It speaks to three disciplines within the collection,” said Rennie. “It doesn’t get better than that.”

The works went on a three-museum tour in Europe in 2014 and will be included in Marshall’s solo exhibition at the Rennie Collection in 2018.

“You are hopefully lending to our Kerry James Marshall retrospective,” Grynsztejn told Rennie when she bumped into him at the VIP opening of the Armory Show on March 4. “We’ve got overlapping programs.”

MCA Chicago will open its Marshall show in April 2016, co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Museum Loans
By lending to museums and organizing his own exhibitions, Rennie has built a reputation as a generous custodian, dealers said. This helps him get access to the best works by artists he covets. Being included in prestigious exhibitions also boosts the works’ value.

To create liquidity, he said he borrows 8 percent of the total value of his art holdings and puts the money back into real estate. New York-based Citigroup Inc.’s Citi Private Bank finances the collection.

“Bob has a great eye and finds artists way before they are on anyone else’s radar,” said Suzanne Gyorgy, head of Citi’s art advisory and finance group.

Female Figures
Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn’s Salon 94 gallery in New York recently sold Rennie a group of five large canvases by Lorna Simpson, the first paintings by the black artist known for her conceptual photography. Rennie already owns Simpson’s “1957-2009,” a work that consists of 306 small photographs.

“There was a lot of competition for these works,” Greenberg Rohatyn said. Rennie won because she thought he would take care of them “better than anyone else.”

The 9-foot-tall paintings depicting female figures will be shown at the Venice Biennale opening in May. Simpson and Marshall are among five artists from the Rennie Collection selected to participate in the prestigious Italian biennial.

While Rennie initially planned to buy just two paintings, he later decided it was important to keep Simpson’s entire Venice installation together. He declined to reveal how much the group cost, saying it was as financially “uncomfortable for me as the three paintings by Kerry James Marshall.”

“The best investment I can make is to keep art,” Rennie said.
Source: Bloomberg