Jeff Rabin and Michael Plummer
Artvest was established last October in Manhattan by two financial executives from Christie’s to provide art investment consultation to the slowly recovering market, after many private banks progressively closed off their services.
What were your motives for establishing Artvest?
MP: We noticed there was a need for objective, sophisticated advice and assistance on the more complex issues involved with owning art. They can range from getting financing, to planning for the transfer of that asset. Some private banks provide some version of what we do, but a lot of them begrudgingly. Citibank have scaled theirs back, UBS and HSBC have closed theirs down. In a world of retrenchment, we still have resources to call upon.
How does it work?
JR: In terms of the financing side, if a client needs financing against their collection – say a client is looking for $10m – we get involved to make introductions to our network of financial institutions and asset finance companies to make a proposal.
Why did you choose to set up Artvest in a downturn?
MP: It became apparent during the downturn that both Sotheby’s and Christie’s focused only on their core business. When they retrenched from the financial services side, we saw a golden opportunity for our business that the auction houses could no longer provide for.
Is the market a healthier place to be now?
MP: There is a generation of new collectors who will find it difficult to ever make their money back on works they bought at the top of the market, like the Damien Hirst sale on the day Lehman Brothers fell. It will take a very, very long time for those prices ever to be reached again. I predict there will be a number of well-known dealers who by the end of 2010 will be exiting the market.