Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cash for art

Something for nothing anyone? That seems to be what's on offer by My Art. It's a scheme that loans you money at no interest to fit you out with art works. You find the work, they pay for it. OK, not quite. You do have to pay 10 percent up front and pay the rest back over nine months but it’s all interest free! Given that My Art is operated by a finance company (not usually given to interest free loans) how is this even possible?

The idea comes from the UK where the same idea runs under the name of Own Art which started up 11 years ago. There's the similar Art Money scheme in Australia - how do they manage to come up with these funky name? So far the UK's Own Art have forked out over $69.5 million covering 35,000 art purchases, the average loan being around $2,000. As with the UK scheme, the NZ one will no doubt include some small admin fees and penalties but essentially the purchases are financed via a cut in the dealer commission. So all good for everyone: the artist gets paid, the dealer doesn’t have to chase the money and the collector gets the work on the wall or the floor where it’s wanted. Getting galleries on board will obviously be vital. The UK version has around 250 participating galleries although most of them are well down the market as the average loan size indicates.

NZ's My Art is ‘brought to you’ by Avanti Finance whose major shareholder is Glen Hawkins. Glen and Sonja Hawkins are keen art collectors and are both known as major Auckland art supporters. Glen is a trustee on the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation and both appear on the Auckland AG honour board.