What Do Artists And Hedge Fund Managers Have In Common?

Many artists and art commentators (including this one) often argue that the aesthetic value of art and the financial value of art have no connection to each other. Others go even further and suggest that artists who interest themselves in the art market are tainted by that association. So it was interesting to speak with one artist and one collector about an event where artists and potential art buyers happily co-mingled.Retired hedge fund manager Chad Loweth organized what he called a contemporary salon at his Hamptons home last weekend. He invited Henry Richardson, Richard Dupont and Domingo Zapata, three artists that he has known and collected for some time, and some art professionals, among them Scott Howe, the deputy director of the Parrish Art Museum, and Lisa Dennison, co-chair of Sotheby’s.

Loweth also asked along lots of his friends, predominantly contacts from the worlds of finance and real estate. “A lot of people tell me they find contemporary art hard to understand. You can look at a piece that is $2.5 million or $25,000 and to the average person, they sometimes look the same,” says Loweth. “How can you spend any of those sums on something that you can’t wrap your arms around?”He points out that the more would-be collectors know about artists, and the more they understand their whole body of work, the more comfortable they are about buying. “I thought it would be great to invite busy, workaholic people who don’t have much time for an evening in the Hamptons where they could interact with the artists themselves and it worked,” he says. “People kept telling me they were having a great time.”Glass artist Henry Richardson also enjoyed the chance to mingle. In fact, he says that Loweth, who has come to him with ideas over the few years he has known him, has influenced the evolution of his work.

“I think a lot of artists are very ego-centric. It’s very important as an artist to draw inspiration from many sources and the creativity of other people. I’ll take any good idea that I can get.”He also sold three out of four large sculptures he brought to the event. “That was a pretty good evening for me. There were also maybe five couples who want me to come to their homes to talk about making a monumental piece for them.”For his part, Loweth thinks that buying art can be a good investment. “Anyone who wants to put a lot of money to work in the art market that has the safety of liquidity is going into the same 50 artists such as Picasso and De Kooning, but the average person is not going to spend $50 million on an art work.”Meanwhile, he thinks there are maybe 500 artists that are worth $30,000 to $70,000 for one piece. “If you can buy a few of these artists, you have a shot that one of these will become a star and you’ll get your money back and maybe make some money too. In the meantime, you’ve got this great piece in your home.”

Richardson’s final take on the evening was that he had some surprising discussions about his art with finance and real estate professionals and not for the first time. He mentions a previous meeting he had with one of Loweth’s real estate contacts. “This guy said, ‘I take care of my body, I like to study, but art is really feeding my soul’. I just thought that was such an unusual statement. He didn’t even think about it, he just felt it in that moment.” Forbes.