Executive Chairman – Art Management
Our Art Management team, supported by a global network of experts, provides a comprehensive service including governance and legal oversight, cataloguing and insurance, coordination of purchases and sales, exhibition loans, logistics, and planning for the future.
We provide comprehensive services to private art collectors, foundations and trusts. Our value lies in combining in-house expertise with a trusted global network of specialists. We have an independent position and our approach considers the life of a collection, from acquisitions to ownership to dispersal. Our hands-on approach gives us a thorough understanding of our clients’ collections: we know the size, weight and condition of each piece, which enables us to provide informed and accurate advice.
It is paramount to be aware of the potential pitfalls of the art market. Our knowledge and tested experience in the field greatly reduces risk and provides peace of mind to clients and trustees alike.
Through our expertise and specialist global network, clients are offered an independent, objective service with the highest levels of discretion, care and efficiency.
We manage collections of all sizes, tailoring the service to each client’s particular needs and objectives. Typically our services include:
Assistance with sales and acquisitions
Independence is at the heart of our offering.
Tastes and situations change, finances fluctuate and it is therefore very important to have someone independent from your art adviser or investment manager managing your collection. We have no agreements with art advisers or auction houses meaning the advice we give is always genuine and centred
around a client’s needs and wishes.
All fees are discussed and agreed upfront, depending on the services provided.
They will reflect the degree of responsibility and complexity of the service being undertaken. Fees are fixed or based on time and scale of a given project rather than the value of a collection. However our clients wish to work with us, there will always be one principal point of contact, ensuring the relationship with us is simple and straightforward. As part of a wider, international multi family office, we always ensure that the management and administration of collections is considered in the context of a client’s broader arrangements.
For internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge, collaboration has been key to giving life to his latest exhibition, “Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture”, currently on display at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town.
Kentridge is widely celebrated for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions, but his current exhibition is, according to him, something of a departure from his usual work. “I never thought of myself as a sculptor”, he told guests at a dinner held at the museum to honour the artist and his work. “But I had worked a lot with shadows in performance and in drawings and I was interested in the possibility of making something like a shadow - so ephemeral and without any substance - to be solid, to hang on to some of the projections and shadows used in other pieces”.
The Norval Foundation, of which Stonehage Fleming is a proud founding partner, is a world-class centre for art and cultural expression. Bordered by vineyards, it is located on the beautiful slopes of the Constantiaberg Mountain in Cape Town and embodies the collaboration of art, education and culture.
For this exhibition, collaboration has given the essential impetus to Kentridge’s creative process. “Each of the sculptures is dependent on a kind of collaboration of many people”, he said of the involvement of everyone from colleagues in his studio who built objects for him, to the composers who filled the megaphones in his sculptures with sound and finally, the curator. Indeed, it was curator, Karel Nel’s “provocation” he said, that helped to “suddenly start looking at all the work and start thinking of it as a group”.
“The breadth of the exhibition is breath-taking because it crosses so many fields,” added Nel, echoing Kentridge’s sentiments. The exhibition covers several bodies of work including props and images from his operas and animations. “Putting it together empowers so many creative individuals but often it is not a matter of co-opting them but empowering them to be creative in other directions”, he said of the exhibition, which is described as “an enormous undertaking from William and from a whole community”.
Willam Kentridge’s “Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture” is on show now at the Norval Foundation until 23rd March 2020.
Georgina Hepburne Scott of Stonehage Art management addresses the complex practicalities of building a serious art collection, from ownership vehicles and due diligence, to conservation, paperwork and value management. In a largely unregulated sector, expert advice often requires expert validation!
The first step to building a serious collection may not be deliberate. Often the initial purchase is on impulse. A painting catches your eye and you realise that you can now afford to buy some of the paintings you really like, rather than just filing round museums and galleries like the rest of us! Having dipped your toe in the water, it is almost inevitable that you start researching your purchase and take a greater interest in the intoxicating world of art and find many contemporaries who have joined the same club, for very similar reasons.
This could be a familiar journey for many successful businessmen/women, but while they quickly develop their taste, learn to distinguish genuinely great works from also-rans, begin to spot market trends and even to develop valuation skills, very few give enough consideration to the practicalities of owning an art collection. These range from initial due diligence to the structures through which the collection might be owned, the succession to the next generation, lending to museums, maintaining a catalogue, transport, storage, insurance and valuations, all of which require specialist knowledge and skills in those who manage and oversee the collection.
The moment it becomes apparent that a collection is being assembled, the obvious question is who is going to own it? Will it be in the name of the individual or held through a trust, company or foundation? This decision begs numerous questions, starting with the purpose and objectives of the collection, which are themselves quite likely to change over time. It is often the case that a collection starts with paintings acquired for personal pleasure, but subsequently plans are made to pass the collection to the next generation, or even to make it over to charitable purposes (and if so what charitable purposes?).
Either way it is likely that fiduciary structures will be used. Given the increasing obligations of trustees, it is vital that the wording of the trust deed covers the exact purpose of the trust, to cover any legal obligation on the trustees to diversify the assets. It is equally vital that the trustee has a good understanding of the art market and practicalities of art management, as their obligations can be complex and demanding. They have a responsibility to see that the collection is expertly managed.
The settlor may wish to keep the collection for personal use in his or her own lifetime, but must address what the future holds for the collection after he or she dies. This must be thought through - perhaps it is for perpetuity or for the next generation to do with as they please. The purpose may be ultimately philanthropic; options may include a plan to create a museum, or a wing of a gallery; alternatively the collector may prefer the art to be used for educational purposes. These ideas should be discussed with a philanthropic adviser. The collection may be destined for all of these purposes at various stages. Has the next generation been involved and do they know and understand the collection? It is important that the correct people are involved for management of the collection in the years ahead. Clarification of the purpose of a collection helps avoid disputes amongst the next generation.
How do you make sure you are buying exactly what you think you are buying? Through tracing the work back to the artist in an unbroken chain, with proper documentation for each stage. The quality of the evidence will not only ensure you avoid the classic mistake of acquiring paintings looted in World War II, it will significantly affect the value if and when you try to re-sell. Obviously such due diligence requires an expert eye, independent from the auction houses. There are likewise talented forgers who on occasion manage to defraud collectors, art dealers and auction houses alike. Precautions must be taken to ensure you are fully aware of what you are buying as once you have parted with your cash, there is often no return.
The more detailed a catalogue, the more useful it is for reviews, exhibitions and literature as well as sales and insurance claims. Details typically held will include the source, purchase date and price, artist name, title, date, dimensions, medium, provenance, insurance, crate specifications, as well as insurance and market valuations.
Formal valuations are usually provided by the major auction houses, which are generally closest to the market and have the broadest range of expertise. On occasions collectors will prefer independent valuers to avoid flagging their collection to the auction houses. There are discreet experts available for such work. Regular valuations are particularly necessary for top end works subject to market fluctuations. An out of date valuation can leave you with inadequate cover when the market goes up or paying excessive premiums when the market is falling.
In some cases, value management can be proactive, especially in the case of an emerging artist in a fashionable sector. Values can be significantly increased by inclusion in the right exhibitions and the value uplift needs to be assessed against any potential risks or costs. Of course not all exhibitions will add value and some may even have an adverse effect, according to the standing and prestige of the event, venue and other works on show. The condition of an artwork must also be examined. Some works will be too fragile to move or expose to extensive transit and handling. Careful consideration must be given to all factors prior to agreeing to loans.
Value management includes ensuring that the work is always stored in suitable conditions as this is vital to its preservation. Whether it is to be stored in a private home, a storage facility or a museum, are suitable and reliable temperature and humidity controls in place? Is there natural light flooding onto the work? Depending on the medium, these factors could alter the condition of the work and ultimate value. If in storage, should the work be kept in a bespoke, insulated crate or rather, be unpacked and held in a secure vault? Depending on the value and fragility of the work, appropriate crates should be built for transportation, often insulated, varnished and museum-quality. Condition checks must be carried out prior to and post transportation, using a suitable expert.
A work should not be tampered with unless the condition is deteriorating to the detriment of the work, in which case specialist conservators should be consulted for their advice. If you are thinking of selling an artwork and believe it could benefit from some restoration, a potential buyer may rather buy the work as it is and use their own preferred restorer to carry out the work. Regular checks should be made on works whose condition is debatable.
The all important question is “Who knows what?” This is especially relevant when moving artwork across borders, understanding which forms need to be completed and who will read them. Incorrect advice or paperwork could result in very costly penalties. Import and export licences, as well as cultural licences must be completed according to the shipment, stating ownership, destination and value.
Technical issues with tax, legalities and governance must be addressed. Who owns the work? There are significant tax consequences depending on whether it is owned in a personal name, by a trust, foundation or company. Further to this, not only must you think of who owns it, but of who enjoys it. The art may be owned by a trust but is enjoyed by and on the walls of a beneficiary, which could trigger tax issues. However, this may be avoided by having the correct agreements in place. If the work is moving, where is it going? Consideration must be given to whether it is moving across jurisdictions; export and cultural licences may be required; the move may result in import VAT duties. The value of the work is relevant, its current value, also its value when the previous beneficiary/owner died/ divorced/moved jurisdictions. A work’s value may vary depending in which market it is sold – the US or Hong Kong, Paris or London. According to the strength of the market, the valuation and insurance should reflect this.
Appropriate insurance for art and jewellery is key, using the most relevant insurer and with competitive rates. Insurers must be kept up to date on movement of the works, especially if they are on loan or in transit. If the location of the artwork is due to change, or if a loan is due to take place, nail-to-nail, worldwide coverage should be in place, and terrorism and/or earthquake coverage be considered depending on the venue location. Insurers will not pay out if terms of contract have not been strictly adhered to, so it is vital to ensure the broker is aware of current values, locations, loans, etc. As mentioned above, the currency in which it is insured will depend on the strength of the relevant market, which can result in a collection using separate policies for varying currencies. Artworks should be labeled with the correct ownership details and the insurance policies must be in accordance with these. This simplifies any issues of ownership in case of insurance claims, together with a detailed catalogue.
Owning and managing an art collection is a complex business requiring frequent advice from a variety of different experts. Many of these experts will have their own interests and their own angles and, unlike investment management, the art world is almost entirely unregulated. This is a sobering thought when one considers the immense nature of the assets in question, the maze of mirrors that s created by potential conflicts of interest and the consequences of “getting the tax wrong”.
The collector therefore needs to know who to ask, precisely what should be required of them, how much they should be paid and how to evaluate their advice – failing which someone is needed who can be totally trusted to do this on his or her behalf. Such independent strategic advice is not easy to find.
Since it began life in 1968, the Fleming Collection – the finest collection of Scottish art outside public institutions – has held dear its mission to promote Scottish art and creativity outside Scotland.
Its initial purpose was to “cheer up” the new London office of merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co – the suggestion of one of the directors at the time, David Donald, according to James Knox, Director of the Fleming Collection. “As it happened, he was a completely brilliant collector of art”, he said, speaking at a private tour of the collection, hosted by Stonehage Fleming Wealth Planning last week.
Deeply proud of its Scottish heritage, the only guidance the bank gave Donald at the time was to feature works by Scottish artists or featuring Scottish scenes, explained James. “Over the following six months, he bought half a dozen paintings by the Scottish Colourists – poster boys for 20th century Scottish art – who were at the time rather unloved, known only in Scotland and a little in London” he said. “From then the collection grew and grew and its role as a vehicle for cultural diplomacy was sealed.”
By the time Flemings was sold to JP Morgan in 2000, the Fleming family were not prepared to lose the collection which bore so much significance. They bought back the entire collection at market value and vested it in the newly formed Fleming Wyfold Art Foundation whose stated aim remains to promote an understanding and awareness of Scottish art and creativity outside Scotland through exhibitions, events, publishing and education.
Today the collection numbers 600 works, many of which are hanging in the Stonehage Fleming London office. Having relinquished its Mayfair gallery in 2015, continues its cultural mission with a ‘Museum Without Walls’ strategy, initiating exhibitions of Scottish Art outside Scotland. The current tour is ‘Scottish Colourists from the Fleming Collection’, which, following a successful run at the Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, has travelled to Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Art, with further venues planned.
Other recent loans include a group of paintings by Anne Redpath to the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol and the iconic World War One painting, The Eve of the Battle of the Somme by James Gunn, which was on display through the final year of the WW1 commemorations at the York and Lancaster Regimental Museum at Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham.
The Fleming Collection collaborates with the Westminster and Scottish governments in a programme of cultural diplomacy, loaning paintings to the Scotland Office in Dover House, Whitehall and to Scotland House in London. Paintings from the collection are also on display at the British Embassy in Dublin where the Scottish Government has a hub.
James calculates that last year alone, over 180,000 people would have seen at least one painting from the Fleming Collection which, he says, is testament to its continuing mission. “This is the absolute heart of what we do in promoting Scottish art through our collection.”