The Wall Street Journal takes a look at corporate art collections in the wake of the Lehman bankruptcy and comes up with some interesting tidbits on how other distressed sales of have been handled:
Companies in trouble sell whatever can raise them money, and art collections are but one more asset. Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm brought down by the Enron scandal, for instance, turned two floors of its Chicago offices into a gallery showroom in 2002, selling more than 2,000 artworks over a five-day period. In 2006, the New York futures broker Refco Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection the previous year while under investigation for hiding $430 million in debt, sold 321 photographs for $9.7 million at Christie’s auction house over a three-day period.
Daniel Grant adds that the cost of collecting art–and the uncertainty–soured the relationship between corporations and art collecting:
“The 1980s was the high point in corporate art collecting, [ . . . ]” said David Galenson, an economics professor at the University of Chicago [ . . . ] “Company executives found out that the art market could be a very volatile thing that they didn’t want to be part of.” Other factors contributed as well. [ . . . ] [A]rt that is expected to appreciate in value “costs money to maintain, in terms of storage and climate control and state-of-the-art facilities in which to display it,” said Mary Lanier, former director of the Chase Manhattan Bank art collection and now a private corporate art adviser. [ . . . ] The result has been a 20-year-long disposal of one corporate art collection after another.
They Once Hung on Walls in Companies. Now What? (Wall Street Journal)