Fine Art Funds – Taking the soul out of art investing?
Throughout history, retailers and individual collectors have been trading valuable works of art, whether for pleasure or investment potential. As far back as the 1800’s art trading clubs were formed and investors would gather to discuss their collections and potentially trade works. It wasn’t until after the year 2000 that commercial art funds began to gain traction as investment vehicles. At that time a number of entrepreneurs from the financial and arts industries who had a strong personal or vocational interest in art set up these funds, a number of which have fizzled out over the years. An art fund, much like a hedge or private equity fund, provides commercial rewards to both the capital providers and the fund managers. Considered by those involved to be a sophisticated type of alternative investment, art funds provide a long-term hedge during periods of financial crisis and inflation. For this feature, ALI spoke to two prominent fine art funds as well as to top art advisors to understand and analyze strategies of art investment funds as well as the recent growth in the Latin American sector Read More…
To read the full article and other related art articles please register for free with Alternative Latin Investor.
The New Soumaya Museum is Inaugurated
Replacing a smaller museum located in the south part of Mexico city and with works by great masters like Diego Rivera, Auguste Rodin and Leonardo Da Vinci amongst what will be a rotating exhibition of close to 66,000 artworks so far – and counting, the Soumaya Museum was inaugurated last Tuesday in the northwest part of Mexico City. The museum will open to the public on March 28, 2011 and will be closed on Tuesdays. Admission will be free.
The Soumaya will display one of the vastest collections of European and Latin American Art in Mexico. The collection is owned by the world’s richest man, telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helu and its name comes after Slim’s late wife Soumaya Domit Slim. The six-story modern building, beautifully designed by Slim’s son-in-law architect Fernando Romero is covered by 16,000 aluminum panels with a curvy landmark design on the outside, and the spectacular 183,000 feet of interior halls interconnected by stairs, ramps and elevators.
The inaugural exhibition will display some 6,200 artworks, which account for about 10% of the complete collection. The 800 million dollar building has a steel structure and it is armed with the latest technology such as controlled temperature and humidity to hold its artworks in the best of conditions.
The first and second floors hold gold and silver pieces, viceroyalty coins, Mesoamerican ceramic, stone and shell pieces. The third and fourth floors exhibit old European masters, New Spain masters, landscapes, portraits and various other art objects. The fifth floor exhibits an impressive collection of what refers to “The Mexican School of Painting” lead by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, amongst many more such as the initiators of the called “The Rupture Movement”; a group of artists from the 1950’s heralding a huge change in Mexican aesthetic expression and it is known to be responsible for the cosmopolitan direction in which art in Mexico has been developed since. With Auguste Rodin as the main theme, the sixth floor holds “The Rodin Era”, also with works by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Camille Claudel, and one of his pupils Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux; it is said to be the most spectacular of all halls and the second most important Rodin collection in the world.
The Soumaya Museum has the most important collection of European art and Latin American art in all Latin America and it is the fastest growing private art collection in the world. Are Mexicans proud of getting a museum from their fellow citizen named the richest man in the world? At least Slim is not keeping his collection to himself. I am proud to have a country inundated with art wherever you go, rich areas, poor areas, parks, corners, circles; art is abundant and it is one of our biggest assets. Mexico is one of the most cultural cities in the world where people, rich and poor, identify themselves with culture in general; it is part of who we are. Mexico City is located on what was the capital of the Aztec Empire in pre-Columbian times and you may feel the power of the Aztecs in areas such as at the Templo Mayor. It is common to see old people, young people, families or groups of friends gather together to go to the museum for the newest exhibition or to check the permanent exhibition once again.
The Soumaya Museum just adds to that. And I am also excited for the upcoming museum that will hold the Jumex Collection, which will be the most important collection of Contemporary art, and it is being built right by the Soumaya and flanked by a new theatre as well.
Until next time,
At 10am, the first part of the controversial symposium “Finding Frida” took off. The owners of the Noyola Collection Carlos Noyola and Leticia Hernandez de Noyola started the presentation talking about how they met sharing their love and dedication to art collecting and to their Art and Antiques store located in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. After telling us how proud they are of their children who followed in their steps, they went on to tell us how Frida Kahlo got between them to never let go and how they share a passion for her works like nobody they know. The Noyola’s are here at the Dallas Art Fair to vindicate themselves by corroborating the authenticity of the works of Frida Kahlo which they have gathered throughout the years. They printed a book called “Finding Frida Kahlo”. They are also trying to reassert us by showing a video of how they have obtained validation from several sources including Arturo Garcia Bustos, Arturo Estrada, Chavela Vargas, Rina Lazo and Diego Maria Alvarado Rivera.
After proudly playing the video, they were immediately questioned by James Oles about the documentation supporting the provenance of the works. James Oles is a professor of art history at Wellesley College, curator of Latin American Art and researcher of the Frida Kahlo archives at the Casa Azul Museum in Mexico City. Trying to be as unbiased as possible, I really wanted for the Noyola’s to prove their point. Who doesn’t want this collection to be authentic? Nobody. But there are very valid issues that overcloud the provenance and authenticity of the collection. Followed by James Oles was Mary Ann Martin. Mary Ann Martin is the owner and director of Mary Ann Martin Fine Art in New York City and she is one of the leading dealers of Latin American Art in the United States. She was asking the Noyola’s about how in the 90’s, they mentioned the source of the provenance of the collection to one newspaper as being from Manuel Marque and later on they told a different newspaper that the source was Abraham Jimenez Lopez. The question confused the Noyola’s; they seemed unorganized and struggled to answer the question as though they did not understand it. Their advisor Jed Paradies came into their rescue only to be shut down by moderator Jason Edward Kaufman pointing out the uncertainty of their rationale of where the artworks ultimately come from. After the symposium, we walked into the salon where 56 pieces from the Noyola collection were exhibited. Within 15 minutes, there were basically two groups; one consisting of the Noyola’s explaining why the collection is authentic and where they got it from and the arguments to prove their claims.
Dr. Salomon Grimberg
The other group gathered first around Dr. Salomon Grimberg who is the co-author of the Frida Kahlo catalog raisonné “Frida Kahlo, Das Gesamtwerk” and one of the leading experts of her work. Later on, another group gathered around James Oles who was absolutely certain that mostly every piece they were showing was a fake. Oles pointed out how the flag that reads “Viva Trosky” was misspelled (Trotsky is the correct spelling) and how the fact that the Noyola’s obtained 1200 works; 40+ original paintings that no Frida Kahlo nor any Latin American Art expert had ever seen or heard about. These details raised most of his claims. Finding Frida part II comes tomorrow. We will be there and I cannot wait to write about it.
The Dallas Art Fair has been even greater than expected and I have met the nicest people. Many of whom are responsible for shaping the art world; others who are responsible for shaping the Latin American Art world and still others who are art enthusiasts and complete the ensemble. After hours of walking and talking to numerous gallery owners, getting to know them and getting the information I was looking for, I walked into the familiar warmth of a colleague who welcomed me into her booth.
Patricia Ruiz-Healey is owner and director of Ruiz-Healey Fine Art in San Antonio, TX. Patricia Ruiz-Healy holds a Masters Degree in Art History from the University of Texas in San Antonio. She also did Post-Graduate work in London at the Sotheby’s Institute and at the Coartauld Institute of Art. She is a PhD student at UT Austin working towards a Doctorate in Latin American Studies and clearly knows what she is all about. With a finicky attitude, she welcomes clients into her space and with visible pride, shows them what her gallery has to offer. Often taking works from the back to pull their interest and educating them further about the works.
In addition to Carlos Betancourt and Rodolfo Choperena, Ruiz-Healey Fine Art is also showcasing the artworks of Cecilia Paredes, Pedro Friedeberg and Cecilia Biagini among others. Patricia talked to me briefly about the artists she represents and their artwork so I could gather information about them for my articles. It was hard to hold a conversation with so many clients constantly walking in. She then informed me that one of the artists she represents: Carlos Betancourt was at the Fair and tried to locate him for me but he was gone. We then set up an interview for Saturday with Betancourt and also with Rodolfo Choperena which I will share with you once I am done with the transcripts.