Andy Hall has more art than he knows where he can display it. Keen to share the the more than 5000 works they own, the Halls have created a space at Mass MoCA to show their Kiefers, turned their Vermont farm into a private museum open by appointment and bought Georg Baselitz’s Schloss Durneburg.
Everything seemed ideal to turn the German castle into a large private museum. Then Germany passed a law that had the perverse effect of making it impossible to leave any art that might fall under the cultural preservation rules in the country.
The new law caused Hall and his wife to completely revamp their exhibition ideas, as the Financial Times explains in their profile of the couple:
“We had an art truck turn up the week the law was passed, and all those early works were gone,” recalls Andrew, who is chief executive of Astenbeck Capital Management and goes by “Andy”. The Swiss warehouse that received the scores of artworks, he says, saw a veritable traffic jam of trucks arriving from Germany. “The law is totally stupid. The idea was to prevent the flight of artworks from Germany, but it had the exact opposite effect. Crazy.”
In addition to scrapping a show of Baselitz and his contemporaries’ early works, the Halls stopped a shipment of about 140 of their Warhols headed for Derneburg’s official opening, since the law applies to foreign-born artists as well, and to whole collections judged significant. Despite verbal assurances from government officials that their art would be allowed out, Andy says the law was so murky that his lawyers could not allay the couple’s fears. “I just don’t want to be the guinea pig,” he says. “It’s not a risk I’m prepared to take with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of art.”
Risk is something Hall, an oil trader, is very comfortable with, including the risk that his own buying can become the dominant force in any of the art market’s particular micro-markets:
A sophisticated observer of markets, Andy seeks out undervalued artists […]— and buys deep. He is not naive about the impact his collecting habits can have on the art market. “I would like to think we were a factor in White Cube taking on Kiefer and Baselitz,” he says of the London gallery, which first made its name promoting the Young British Artists, not ageing German ones.
Art collectors who turn obstacles into opportunities (Financial Times)