World’s largest collection of contemporary art goes under the hammer

Artworks collected by the Artist Pension Trust (APT) will go under the hammer for the first time since it was founded 13 years ago.

Works from a star-studded list of artists will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York and London in March and April this year. The lineup includes pieces by David Shrigley, Iván Navarro and Bob and Roberta Smith and carries an estimated value of £255,000 to £370,500

Created in 2004, the APT is an investment scheme designed to give artists around the world ‘long-term financial security and international exposure’. APT Curatorial Team carefully select artists who deposit artworks into the trust, which are then gradually sold over the course of 20 years for the benefit of the contributors.

Currently, the APT collection is comprised of 10,000 artworks by 2,000 artists from 75 different countries, which makes it the world’s largest collection of contemporary art.

Private sales from the APT collection, which took place in 2016 raised up to £360,000. It is hoped public auctions will increase the artists’ exposure. “We wanted to show the quality and variety of our collection — essentially to let the world know what we have”, Al Brenner, chief executive of MutualArt, which owns APT told the Financial Times.

The trust had planned to being selling works as early as 2011 when global auction market sales began to boom but decided against it. According to Brenner, initial concerns over whether the fund would “flip” the works at a loss to their creators have given way to questions over why it had yet to sell anything. “We’re not under any pressure to sell, but it’s time artists start seeing some money back”, Brenner said.

Beneficiaries of the APT include both young and unknown artists as well as celebrated Turner Prize winners. To be selected for the trust the artworks must be ‘of median current market value, representative of that year’s output, which could not be characterized as unmanageable in terms of size or style’ in accordance with APT’s investment schedule.

Funds from the sale proceeds go to the individual artist whose work is sold (40%), the remaining artists in the trust based on the number of artworks they have deposited (32%) and toward the costs of running the trust (28%). In the forthcoming sales, Sotheby’s will take its cut from the 28% APT portion.

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