Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Art Gets Boardroom Brush-Off

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Art Gets Boardroom Brush-Off

Article excerpt


NEXT month at Christie's one of the most lovingly amassed arrays of dynastic art ever collected in Britain is going under the hammer.

Some 350 paintings and other works or art (though sadly not one of the collection's curios - Queen Victoria's knickers) acquired by the fabulously wealthy publisher Malcolm C Forbes and his son Christopher over 30 years will be sold at the auction house in a two-day extravaganza.

Although the family says the collection is being sold because there is no more room for it at its sumptuous London home, Old Battersea House, the decision is being seen in the art world as a direct reaction to the savage downturn in financial advertising currently hitting the Forbes stable of business magazines.

The family is said to have been guaranteed an advance of about pound sterling11 million on the collection, which has been valued at around pound sterling25 million.

The collection features works by Victorian masters such as Walter Howell Deverell, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir Edwin Landseer, James Tissot and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, there are fears in London that the sheer size of the auction will swamp the market and drive down already depressed prices for Victorian art.

One dealer said: "The Victorian market is on its knees. There is far too much supply and it is out of fashion. There are very few museum-quality pictures in this collection and the trade cannot afford to buy overpriced pictures."

The sale is the latest example of business art collections - whether dynastic or corporate - being unceremoniously dumped during the more straitened times facing the global economy.

The truth is that the glitzy company art collection is in danger of going the same way as the corporate jet - an emblem of self-indulgence more to do with the boardroom egos of the boom than the survival instincts of the bust.

Two decades ago, access to a Lear or Gulfstream jet was a badge of honour for any serious company chairman.

Then came the 1987 stock market crash, followed by the recession, and the fleets of corporate jets fell out of fashion faster than shoulder pads. …

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