Art Rentals

The internet and the web have opened many new opportunities for businesses, and the art world is no different.  I have posted on some art rental websites in the past, including Art Remba which was recently written about in Bloomberg Businessweek.  Click HERE to read the AW Blog post from 12/20/2012.  Art Remba has relationships with both galleries and artist studios of which the works can be available to rent. Art valued under $2000 typically rents for under $50.00 per months, while the most expensive pieces, valued near $150,000 can rent for $600.00 per month.

While as appraisers we rarely see the income approached used, should these new ventures work and expand to a broader audience, it may well become more familiar within appraisal practices.

Businessweek reports
Art Remba won’t disclose subscriber numbers, but Mehta says about 85 artworks are in circulation. The most expensive canvas currently rented, by Syed Haider Raza, sells for $150,000 and fetches $600 a month. Artworks in the $1,000 to $1,750 range rent for as little as $50 a month. When clients fall in love with their rental art and decide to go all in, 50 percent of their past monthly fees goes toward the purchase. Art Remba has brokered five sales so far. Galleries and artists get as much as 50 percent of monthly rental fees. Art Remba gets a commission for any piece sold.

The concept of renting art is not new. Museums and art consultants such as Art Assets do it, as do websites like Artsicle, which offers works by lower-profile artists. Art Remba tries to set itself apart by dealing only with established artists who have fared well at auctions or on the art fair circuit. Clients can choose from a catalog available on the company’s site, but the startup also has access to many more pieces. The service hand-delivers and installs the works and picks them up at the end of a rental. It also supplies dossiers on artists, to provide renters with dinner table talking points.

Mehta, a 27-year-old Belgian whose background includes time as a justicial internship scholar for Chief Justice John Roberts during college and stints with private equity art funds, helps put clients at ease. “Unless you’re brought in by an art world insider, it’s very difficult to walk into a gallery and feel like you’ll be given the time of day,” she says. “As soon as you start letting people talk about art and what they like, they stop being scared.” Some of her clients are established collectors of Western art who want to explore new markets. Gallery partners appreciate the arrangement, too. “We get to know what and how collectors like our artworks,” Philip Xie, director of PX Photography Gallery, with locations in Brooklyn and Beijing, said in an e-mail.

For safety, Mehta says, “the art is insured from the minute it leaves the gallery or studio.” Subscribers are also carefully vetted. They fill out a questionnaire covering everything from education level to building security, and Mehta visits many in person. So far, Art Remba has turned away 15 applicants. “We try to be as inclusive as possible,” Mehta says. “But inclusive for people with the desire, as well as the means, to participate in a program like this.”
Source: Businessweek

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