Art Fund Liabilities

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Anny Shaw has an interesting examination of the current state of art funds. Although the article suggests that there has been a "proliferation" of art funds in recent years, the field has actually been shrinking. Whereas the "financialization" of art continues apace in other areas -- such as the growth of fine art collateral-based lending -- interest in art funds has largely evaporated. In truth, the concept has several significant drawbacks. Some have to do with the structural features of the market-- particularly the lack of liquidity. The model also overlooks the various ways that collectors derive value from their art. In addition to financial gains at re-sale, collectors enjoy the reputational and social benefits of having an impressive collection (and some even like to look at their artworks!). Art funds reduce the benefits of ownership (actually, fractional ownership) to only a monetary rate of return. For individuals who have the resources to purchase significant works of art and the financial savvy to consider art funds, it makes much more sense to actually collect -- even if prospective financial gain is a key motivation.