Corporate Art

Jill Lawless writing from London for the Associated Press has an article on corporations, profits and decisions to be made on selling corporate art collections in order to improve the bottom line. Much of the commentary has already been covered in the press and here on the AW Blog, such as the Lehman Brother sales.

Lawless also states some of the rationale and reasons for corporate collections.  She covers a lot of points,  in a short article. Lawless quotes Judd Tulley as saying some corporations do not wish to sell off art because of the negative impression it leaves with the public. Sort of a last resort, and that the company must behaving problems.

Lawless states

"Over the last five or six years we've dealt with more and more corporate as well as private clients," said Saul Ingram, head of European corporate art services at Sotheby's auction house.

"Obviously there have been economic changes in the last couple of years, and I think that has heralded a change in attitudes — that these collections need to be trimmed, to focus on quality."

Cathy Elkies, head of private and corporate collections at Christie's, also says she has seen an increase in the corporate side of the business, and expects it to continue.

"In some cases, organizations are editing and refocusing their collections," she said. "Others are looking to completely divest themselves of their art offerings."

Corporations collect art for a variety of reasons, of which turning a profit is often the least important. Some companies like to see supporting emerging artists as a form of corporate social responsibility, or philanthropy — works can be lent to museums and galleries for shows.

Others use art to flaunt their corporate wealth. Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of the once high-flying but now state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland used to boast about the David Hockney in his office.

Sometimes, art is used to enliven the work environment. Half a century ago, industrialist Alexander Orlow adorned the walls of his Turmac tobacco factory in the Netherlands with bright abstract works — inspired by the theme "joie de vivre" — to cheer his workers.

British American Tobacco later acquired the company and closed the factory. In March, BAT sold more than 160 of the artworks at auction for 13.6 million euros.

Click HERE to read the full article.

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