Young firms turn to Old Masters
Helen Jones talks to a company that rents out 'instant heritage'
Sunday 02 June 1996
The Langford Fine Art Collection was set up by Tony Harris, who was a guest at a country house and saw a space on the wall where a large painting had hung. The owner explained that it had been sold to pay for the upkeep of the house and Mr Harris then devised a system for owners to retain their ownership while receiving an annual rent.
Corporate art has graced the offices of City and financial institutions for years and some, such as the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, own particularly fine collections, but renting rather than owning art is a relatively new idea. Susan Ahlquist, the joint managing director of Langford, says: "People come to us for a variety of reasons. Some to raise money and others find insurance costs are prohibitively expensive or are frightened to display their pieces for security reasons."
Rik de Stroumillo, a graphic designer who rents out a painting via Langford, says: "I thought it was a good idea. I have a picture that I didn't particularly want to get rid of but I see this as a way of getting some pin money." He adds that to fill the gap on his wall he "may consider renting something that I might not be able to afford to buy".
But the business is not without its difficulties. Langford has to assure owners of confidentiality not least for security reasons but also because some family members may not know that an heirloom is on loan or because some fear what their well-heeled neighbours might say. "You have to be sensitive. Some do not want anyone to think that they are strapped for cash and we have to respect that," says Ms Ahlquist. Langford handles paintings, tapestries, sculptures, porcelain, glass and other objets d'art, usually with a minimum value of pounds 25,000, which will generate a rental of around pounds 3,000 a yearfor a minimum of two years. The more valuable the work of art, the higher the rental income.
The most expensive work on its books is a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds valued at pounds 1.5m. Other paintings include works by William Hogarth, Canaletto and John Singer Sargent.
The company handles most subject matters - landscapes, marine, still life and sport, though cherished portraits are more difficult to place. Paintings and sculptures also have to be of a reasonable size. Too small and they will not be suitable for reception and office areas. Having sourced a work of art, Langford works in conjunction with International Art Consultants, a firm of corporate art specialists, to find a suitable firm to rent it.
Peter Harris, the chairman of International Art Consultants, says: "The system allows companies, who are unwilling to commit the sums of money needed to acquire works of art of Old Master status, to rent them instead. It enables companies to achieve the image they require at a rental cost that is wholly tax deductible."
So why do companies invest in works of art? Mr Harris says: "It gives companies an aura of heritage, history and pedigree even if they are reasonably young companies. It also gives a sense of what the company is about both to visitors and employees."
But Mr Harris warns that it is not good enough just to have any old painting as long as it is valuable. "Although the Japanese tend to go for value rather than what the picture is actually of, we find that most companies want something that relates to their business," he says. "It is not just decoration, like ordering a new pair of curtains. It has to have relevance to the company and its image."
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
newsThat most ancient of crimes is on the rise, threatening farmers' livelihoods, community trust – and human health
food + drink
sportIf you thought the London Olympics and Wiggins' Tour glory made last year best, don't forget Murray's Wimbledon win and Farah's double
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Scores injured after partial ceiling collapses on to audience at Apollo Theatre in London's West End
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 27 animals died during filming of Hollywood blockbuster The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, says report
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£500 - £650 per day: Harrington Starr: Harrington Starr is working with a Glob...
£27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Consultant (Excel, Financial Spread...
£500 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Quantitative Developer - Contract ...
£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Operations Analyst (UNIX, Linux,...