Using Art to Sell Real Estate

The NY Times real estate section just ran an interesting article about real estate developers and agents using fine art to assist in selling units.  As the article states, this is not a new concept, but in addition to art associated with a building or lobby, developers are also having artists design pieces for each buyer and individual unit. It appears to be happening mostly in the NYC and Miami markets.

The NY Times reports
The commingling of art and real estate has a long, established history, beginning with the cathedrals of Europe, which commissioned religious art. The Medici family in Italy hired artists to create works for their many estates, while in modern times, art has played a role in places like the Seagram Building, with its famed tapestry by Pablo Picasso. Perhaps it isn’t so surprising that in this era, which some have termed the new Gilded Age, the worlds of art and real estate have once again begun to merge.

Mr. Schnabel, who created the interiors of the Gramercy Park Hotel and built Palazzo Chupi, a pink condominium in the West Village, is no stranger to this connection. “The idea of living with art is a good thing, not necessarily a scam,” he told me recently. “Obviously, when something is popular they can turn that into something trendy, but it has a historical precedent.”

Mr. Schnabel is designing the sales center — “a terrible term, can’t we say building?” — for the Brickell Flatiron, a 710-foot triangular-shaped skyscraper underway in Miami. The center — the developers prefer the word “gallery” — will have Mr. Schnabel’s paintings and furniture, as well as a fireplace. It will “look like a living room,” Mr. Schnabel said. “It will be very different than other sales offices, where they look like you are walking into a bank, with cold marble, a lot of glass, very corporate.”

There are clear benefits to collaborating with artists, but the artists can also be unpredictable. Mr. Schnabel, for instance, repeatedly declined to be interviewed about the project, despite cajoling from the developers who are paying his wages. And when he and I did finally connect, he was far less interested in talking about the condominium than about his new exhibit opening in October at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, “CafĂ© Dolly: Picabia, Schnabel, Willumsen.”

While art is playing a critical role in the marketing of ultraluxury real estate, it is by no means the only strategy developers are employing. At One Riverside Park, the developer, the Extell Development Company, has partnered with the company Musion, which created the hologram of Tupac Shakur that appeared onstage at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Musion created a hologram of One Riverside Park, with images of the floor plans and the surrounding neighborhood.

But some developers, like Francis Greenburger, the chairman of Time Equities, is skeptical of marketing gimmicks. “Like those mood movies — why would you make a movie that has nothing to do with the building?” he said, referring to the $1 million film commissioned by the developer Harry Macklowe to market his skyscraper 432 Park Avenue. “Maybe it has worked, but for me, it is a distraction. It isn’t what selling an apartment is all about.”

Still, Mr. Greenburger has plenty of marketing strategies of his own. At the sales office for 50 West Street, his new condominium in the financial district, a curved projection wall features 180-degree images, taken by drones, of different elevations from the building, allowing buyers to see their potential views. And there is a piece of a curved glass curtain wall that will wrap around the building.

While the efforts may be gimmicky, they may also work. At 135 West 52nd Street, the building will not only be draped in an enormous light installation, but will also have a sales office featuring purple mohair walls and a V.I.P. room for prospective buyers of the penthouses. “Once you step into the V.I.P. room, you are entering a different strata,” said Mr. De Niro, the son of the actor Robert De Niro and himself no stranger to V.I.P. treatment.
Source: The NY Times

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