Corporate Collections

When carrying out a valuation or appraisal of a corporate art collection it is important to consider the reasons behind these company acquisitions. At first glance, the partnership between a corporate business and fine art would seem an unlikely one. Yet there are approximately 1500 serious companies collecting worldwide, including global giants such as Deutsche Bank, KPMG, UBS, BP, RBS and JPMorgan, and a closer look shows that company involvement can be good for artists, businesses, and even wider society.

Firstly, corporate collections can benefit the artists and the art world by buying direct from artists or from galleries. Mary Findlay, Art Curator, Deutsche Bank London, explains, “Our collecting concept is about supporting art of our time, work that is being created by leading and emerging artists of the moment”. Deutsche Bank has probably the largest collection of around 50,000 prints and drawings in the world and sponsors Asia’s biggest art fair, the Hong Kong-based Art HK. The UBS collection also consists of 40,000 works made during the last 50 years, with artists including Andy Warhol, Gilbert & George and Cy Twombly represented. As well as supporting world famous artists, corporate involvement can also support younger and upcoming names. Dutch bank ING has sponsored an annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries for the past 11 years in conjunction with Discerning Eye, an educational charity supporting aspiring artists, whilst the financial company Bloomberg sponsors ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries’ offering prizes to the best graduates from British Art Schools every year.

Secondly, corporate art collecting can benefit the corporate institution itself, by creating an inspiring work environment that supports the emotional and innovative health of employees. Collecting contemporary art has become a highly effective way of creating a pioneering and unique culture in the workplace. Supporting art, whether by maintaining collections or sponsoring art events can also benefit the bank by making it seem more attractive and innovative to potential new clients. “It’s about reaching key audiences, and associating themselves with the very best of what’s going on,” says Colin Tweedy (from artsandbusiness.org.uk).

Having a corporate art collection can be a socially responsible way of boosting corporate identity in the public eye. Corporations are a significant cumulative patron of art, owning and displaying several million art works, almost the same value as those displayed in city museums. The Royal Bank of Scotland recently agreed to put on display works from its own collection; one of the largest private collections of British art, including works by artists such as David Hockney, LS Lowry and Joshua Reynolds.

Deutsche Bank backed the Ghost Forest public art installation by artist Angela Palmer that transformed Trafalgar Square and was intended to highlight climate change—a positive cause for a bank to be associated with. Meanwhile, the current Edvard Munch exhibition at Tate Modern in London is sponsored by the renewable energy firm Statkraft.

Many of our public institutions would not survive without investment from corporate partners. For example Insight Investment Asset Management is one of the key sponsors of the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, as they share the core values of ‘innovation and creative thinking with an international reach’.

The potential for growth in the corporate art collection field is immense, as the economic evidence for creating an inspiring work environment and contributing to culture—both for individual artists and creative institutions—mounts.

Coram James has extensive experience dealing with the appraisal requirements of corporate clients. The valuation inventory provides a clearly defined record in category and location order and regular updates can be provided to ensure that the values reflect current market conditions. We can provide an overview of the collection and an analysis of the entire sales strategy.