Today’s excellent Bloomberg story on Halsey Minor’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing reminds us of Halsey Minor’s long history of using art as a store of value. As Bloomberg’s Dawn McCartney and Ari Levy point out, Minor went to his art collection when his other illiquid assets were less accessible:
Minor has been selling his art collection to pay debts. In 2010, he sold a painting of a blue-eyed nurse by Richard Prince and an aluminum couch by Marc Newson to help raise $21.1 million for his creditors. Proceeds from the sales went toward a $21.6 million judgment obtained in October 2009 by ML Private Finance, a Bank of America Corp. affiliate, on a delinquent loan.
In April 2010, Sotheby’s Inc. won a $6.6 million judgment against him in connection with three artworks he bought at auction and later refused to pay for.
It is worth pointing out that Minor had previously been successful in arbitraging value through his art purchases. Though one might have asked whether he would have been safer in cash, Minor told Carol Vogel in 2002 that he saw his American Art investments as a net gain when he sold works to raise cash then.
”I like art, but I’ve always looked at it as an investment,” Mr. Minor said in a recent telephone interview. ”When the CNET stock was at $35 to $55 a share, I decided to buy physical assets like art and real estate. Now the stock is at $3.50. I wish the art was worth the same as it was when I paid for it, but I still think I came out ahead. When I look at people who kept all their money in the market, I thank my lucky stars.”
The Americans at Lower Prices (Inside Art/New York Times)