It will be a long wait to learn the fate of bankrupt broker-dealer Lehman Brothers art collection. Lehman has hired Kelly Wright as an art consultant. Wright has experience unwinding Arthur Andersen and Warnaco corporate collections but the consistent message from Lehman, confirmed again in this New York Magazine report by Erica Orden, is that they’re in no hurry to sell.
“We are not anticipating the imminent sale of art, particularly under the likely current market conditions,” says Lehman managing director Francine Kittredge. Furthermore, Barclays, which purchased Lehman’s investment-banking and capital- markets operations, and Neuberger Berman, the firm’s former asset-management arm, still have right of first refusal on portions of the collection. “We know exactly what we’re dealing with,” adds Wright. “Art is ultimately a commodity, just like any investment tool, and when it’s high, it’s high, and when it’s low, it’s low.”
If you’ve been paying attention to the details on the Lehman collection, you’ll know that there is a lot of work in the lower valuation range. We know from recent art fair reports that the mid-five figure range (up to about $125,000) is still quite healthy. Indeed, it may be the strongest sector of the market.
So the question is whether Lehman’s wait-and-see approach is as bad as its “everything-is-fine” approach with the firm. Should Lehman sell now and get the creditors what they can while there’s still a market in lower-value works?
Lehman’s Taste Features (New York Magazine)