For a lot of folks, art is turning out to be their one asset that’s stored some value. Sure, the market is down, but a famous painting is still a famous painting. J. Ezra Merkin is liquidating his art, as are many other Madoff victims. Some artists are even being forced to liquidate their own work.
Turns out the famed photographer Annie Liebovitz has run into financial hardship, and has gone to a firm called Art Capital Group to pawn off her entire collection (and even her future works), until she pays off her personal debts.
Anyway, Art Capital’s business is booming:
Art Capital issues loans of $500,000 or more at interest rates from 6 per cent to 16 per cent. Fail to pay and you lose your Rubens; several of the works on display in Art Capital’s office on Madison became subject to sale after their owners defaulted.
The company expects to make about $120 million in art-related loans in 2009, up from $80 million in 2008. At a Manhattan-based competitor, Art Finance Partners, “we are up 40 per cent in originations in the last six months,” said Meghan Carleton, a partner.