Loretta Wurtenberger is a former judge, entrepreneur, art finance provider and consultant to artist’s estates. Those experiences make her uniquely suited to founding a think tank for sharing best practices among the exploding number of artists’ estates. The launch of the Institute for Artists’ Estates will culminate with a conference in Berlin September 14-15 called “Keeping the Legacy Alive.”
The institute’s website contains all of the information on its various activities. And Wurtenberger’s forthcoming book, titled with inescapable German logic The Artist’s Estate, both offer a roadmap to artists and heirs on how to best structure and operate an artist’s estate in today’s more complex and vibrant art world.
Here’s what Wurtenberger told The Art Newspaper:
The Institute for Artists’ Estates offers practical advice on all aspects of managing an artists’ legacy, from staffing and budget to legal and authentication issues. “Mid-sized estates are often run by the relatives of an artist,” says Würtenberger, who co-manages the estate of Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp and that of Keith Arnatt. “They might not know how big a job it is or the necessary steps to take.”
She also discussed the topic with Artnet:
When I interviewed Rainer Judd, the daughter of Donald Judd, about her very good work with the Judd estate, she wanted to know who else have I spoken to, and when I mentioned the different estates she said, “I want to meet them also!” Time and again, I would sense an urge from heirs to get in contact with people who are in a similar situation, because it’s also an emotional topic. That’s how the networking activity of our institute was developed. Next to the estates we work with on a full time basis, we also do a lot of strategic advising for singular projects with estates. They ask us to set up structures of an authentication committee for example, or a living artist talks to us about issues they encounter with setting up an estate.
Although it should not be the first concern, the market for an artist’s work is directly effected by the quality of their estate:
a world-class artist’s legacy can suffer if you don’t manage their estate well. The Arp estate wasn’t handled transparently. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from my work with estates, they should be handled transparently so people have confidence in their work, and this confidence translates to an artist’s market, too. When we took over the Arp estate six years ago the very first condition for starting to work with them was for them to open up their archives completely for research. Through that we developed a transparent catalogue raisonné which gives details on works which were not cast with the artist’s authorization, and that really was a game changer.
New Institute Advises Artists Estates in Europe (artnet News)