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Asher Edelman: “Art as branding”

What do you do with an architecturally bland building? Dress it up with art. Trying to sell vacant condos? Dress them up with art. One World Trade doesn’t impress the critics? Dress the lobby with famous art.

This is perhaps the guidance that Asher Edelman, founder of Artemus – the first art leasing company – would give developers.

“Today, art has become the bellwether of branding amongst sophisticated developers of high-end real estate, hotels, office buildings and condominiums,” said Edelman, speaking at the 1AN Art Symposium in New York at Art Miami New York.

Closing the first day of speaking engagements at Pier 94 in New York, Edelman discussed the critical roll art plays for businesses in the corporate ecosystem today.

“Competitive businesses place a premium on creating work environments that inspire clients and employees alike,” he said.

Deutsche Bank, for example, has been acquiring and displaying contemporary art for over thirty years. The firm has a collection of over 56,000 pieces and states on its website: “Art questions. It spawns new ideas for shaping our future. It inspires people, opens up new perspectives, and thus enables them to embrace unusual and innovative solutions.”

Art has played pivotal role in public and patron perceptions in real estate developments. Edelman discussed examples like, Jose Parla’s painting in the lobby of One World Trade; Sol LeWitt’s large mural in the entrance of The Conrad in New York’s Battery Park; and, even the installation of two large Jeff Koons sculptures in the lobby of a Miami condominium Oceana Bal Harbor.

In the 1980s, art conveyed power and influence according to Edelman, while today he says it’s a marketing tool used to convey a company’s mission and identity. Today, he added, art plays an integral role in a business’s image; arguing that impactful art implies prestige, refinement and wellbeing.

He emphasized the critical role that art plays for corporates and as a part of real estate developments. “Art in branding is here, in permanence.”

A new way to obtain art

Along with ArtAssure, Edelman’s newest venture, Artemus, advises businesses how to incorporate artworks as a part of the corporate ecosystem and will arrange to lease or art for five to 10 years.

There is little to no capital outlay for the client. Edelman said a $2 million collection can be leased for $10,000 to $15,000 per month. And, in many cases this is tax deductible and includes a purchase option attached to the lease.

Artemus will acquire portfolios to a company’s taste either by sale/leaseback or purchasing individual works or a portfolio.

The company has a roster of about 700 artists it’s willing to work with. Clients include corporates like hedge funds and law firms, real estate developers and private collectors.

Most notably, Edelman worked with the Durst Corporation to curate the lobby space of One World Trade, which includes a 90-foot abstract mural by Jose Parla.

In November 2014, Edelman told Private Art Investor that Artemus is aiming to have about $50 million in assets by the end of the year.

At the moment Artemus is the only company leasing art to corporates. Does Edelman see competition on the horizon? “Not yet,” he says. “But, it always comes if it’s a good idea.”

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Sophie Segal

Sophie Segal

Based in New York, Sophie Segal has been a financial journalist and editor for more than 10 years. She studied at St Andrews University in Scotland before becoming a reporter in London.