Daniel Grant has an interesting post on the decline of corporate art collections. As art continues to rise as an asset, corporations are increasingly avoiding collecting art and coming up with creative ways to divest their collections.
The prices for top-flight art have risen to astronomical levels, draining corporate resources, and the type of art 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. Shareholders and board directors have less and less tolerance for major art expenditures, according to Princeton University economist Orley Ashenfelter, who noted that “firms, especially when the economy starts to sour, recognize their need to stick to their core business.” The result has been a 20-year-long disposal of one corporate art collection after another.
What follows is subtle but more interesting. Grant goes on to explain how corporations are off-loading their art. The use of charitable donations suggests the art itself isn’t easily turned into cash so companies have been pursuing another strategy:
The question of what to do with no-longer-wanted company artwork received one answer from the New York-based Business Committee for the Arts, which in 2006 established the From Workplaces to Public Spaces program. In its first two years, the program has placed about 1,000 artworks deaccessioned by Manhattan-based businesses in 16 hospitals, schools and cultural organizations in the Greater New York area.
Corporations, Once Happy Buyers of Art, Are Now Happy If They Can Get Rid of It (Daniel Grant)