Athena Art Finance Sold

Just back from the ISA conference in Louisville and I had a great time. If you have never been to an ISA conference, you should really think about attending (next year it is in Denver). Great tours, presentations and networking opportunities, and ISA members and presenters are all friendly, approachable collegial atmosphere, and all with a willingness to share. I go primarily for the networking, and have made several excellent contacts for both my practice and for potential contributors to the new Digital Journal of Advanced Appraisal Practice.

The new digital platform in just a few short days is now nearing 300 views. In only a few short days, the online views have already outnumbered the last printed edition of the Journal. The digital platform (currently available at no charge, view online or download) is doing what we had planned, getting in front of appraisers and allied professionals. The strategy seems to be working. If you are a reader, please share the link with other appraisers and fine and dec art professionals.

Now, back to appraisal related and art news.  The Art Newspaper is reporting that Athena Art Finance was sold by The Carlyle Group to YieldStreet, a digital investment platform. The article notes that so far this year there has been some growing pains in the art finance community, with mergers and Borro pausing lending activities. In my opinion, not that unusual as legacy banking, new digital platforms and collateralize lending opportunities intersects with fine art.

The Art Newspaper reports
The digital investment platform YieldStreet has bought the art-based lending company Athena Art Finance from The Carlyle Group and its co-investors for around $170m.

Since Athena was launched in 2015, it has lent more than $225m against works of art. YieldStreet, which specialises in "democratising" alternative investments by making them available to retail investors, was also only founded in 2015 and recently completed a $62m Series B funding round, adding to its initial investment from Soros Fund Management. The purchase of fellow start-up Athena is its first corporate acquisition.

Cynthia E. Sachs, who has replaced Andrea Danese as the chief executive of Athena only last month, will continue to lead the company. Danese had been Athena’s chief executive since its launch, but now, according to a statement, “has decided to pursue other opportunities.”

Michael Weisz, YieldStreet’s founder and president, says: “Our acquisition of Athena demonstrates YieldStreet’s ability to leverage our technology, proprietary origination channels and efficient direct-to-consumer distribution, to take a traditional capital-intensive business and make it capital efficient.”

Milind Mehere, the founder and chief executive of YieldStreet, describes art financing as “an attractive asset class with typically low correlation to the stock market and low loan-to-values, providing what we believe is both an exciting and sound new investment option for our investor community of more than 100,000 members.”

This year has been one of upheaval and consolidation in the art finance sector. In January, the Fine Art Group acquired Falcon Fine Art, an art-secured lending division of the specialist financier Falcon Group. Yet shortly thereafter, Borro Private Finance quietly stopped issuing loans to its clients. In an email to The Art Newspaper last month, Claire Hillier, Borro’s chief commercial officer, wrote: “As of February 11th, we paused writing new loans whilst we evaluate the current state of the secured lending market and strategic direction of the business.”
Source: The Art Newspaper

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