Filed under: Art
Investors in trouble often but their art collections up for sale but you don't usually hear about it happening to the artists themselves. The NY Times reports that famous photographer Annie Leibovitz borrowed $5 million from a company called Art Capital Group last fall and in December, she borrowed $10.5 million more from them. Her collateral didn't just include her homes but also the rights to all of her photographs. Considering Leibovitz's breadth of work, the hundreds of magazines and ad campaigns, this is quite an amazing move.
Art Capital Group is doing a tidy business in these uncertain times. The company issues loans of $500,000 or more at interest rates from six percent to 16 percent to those who have artwork worthy of making such a loan. It operates like a pawn shop; if you fail to pay and you lose your precious art. A Rubens hanging in the Art Capital offices once belonged to Veronica Hearst, the widow of Randolph Apperson Hearst. She mortgaged her art to hold onto Villa Venezio in Manalapan, Florida. She eventually lost the home in foreclosure.
Christie's and Sotheby's also offer loans for art but in those cases it is generally bridge loans for art that will be sold later at the auction house.Some choose to take a loan rather than sell, especially right now when pieces of art might be worth a good deal less than they were a year ago. Also borrowing against one's art collection can be a bit more discreet than a sudden sale.