James Reinish, owner, and gallery director Ann Phillips: a synergy of diverse experience

by leslierankowfinearts

Gallery-Viewing Room

ART ADVISORY SERVICES, AN ASTUTE SENSE OF THE MARKET, A DISCERNING EYE AND A KNOWLEDGE OF THE QUESTIONS TO ASK AND ANSWER ABOUT A WORK’S PROVENANCE AND CONDITION, ARE  AVAILABLE FROM SEVERAL SOURCES, BE IT A GALLERIST, AUCTION SPECIALIST, PRIVATE DEALER, OR AN ADVISOR WHO CAN PROVIDE A MORE  IMPARTIAL VANTAGE POINT SERVING THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE BUYER OR SELLER. ONLY TWO INSTITUTIONAL ENTITIES, HOWEVER, OFFER ART-RELATED FINANCIAL SERVICES, A BANK OR LENDING INSTITUTION OR,  IN SOME INSTANCES, THE AUCTION HOUSE. IN THE LATE SEVENTIES,  THE ART MARKET MUST HAVE BEEN A VERY DIFFERENT ENTITY – INVOLVING MANY FEWER COLLECTORS, GALLERIES, TRANSACTIONS OF 7 AND 8 FIGURES,  AND CERTAINLY ART FAIRS.  AT THE TIME OF ITS FORMATION IN 1979, CITI PRIVATE BANK ART ADVISORY AND FINANCE LED THE WAY IN ESTABLISHING THE CONCEPT OF ART AS AN ASSET. THEN, AND NOW, IT IS A TEAM OF ART PROFESSIONALS WHO ASSIST CLIENTS IN BUILDING AND MAINTAINING THEIR ART COLLECTIONS, ACTING AS ADVISORS, BUT ALSO PROVIDING LIQUIDITY FROM THE ART AS COLLATERAL. FOR SIX YEARS, FROM 1993-2000, ANN YAFFE PHILLIPS SERVED AS VICE PRESIDENT IN THIS DIVISION AT CITI AND TODAY WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF EXPLORING THIS ASPECT OF THE ART BUSINESS WITH AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD.

ANN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE LRFA BLOG.

ANN, I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IMPRESSED AND INTRIGUED BY CITI PRIVATE BANK ART ADVISORY SERVICE SINCE RATHER PROMINENT COLLECTORS AND CLIENTS  OF MINE, EARLY ON, WERE CLIENTS OF THE PRIVATE BANK ART ADVISORY SERVICE AT CITI. WAS THAT YOUR FIRST PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THE ART WORLD? HOW DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH CITI RATHER THAN AT AN AUCTION HOUSE OR GALLERY? WHAT DID YOU FIND UNIQUE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE? IN WHAT WAYS DID IT INFLUENCE YOUR THINKING ABOUT COLLECTING?

My first experience in the art world was long before Citi Art Advisory. My first job was at the Museum of Modern Art as an intern in the Print Department, and I later spent time working at the information desk where I had a number of interesting artist-colleagues, including Jeff  Koons. I later worked for several contemporary galleries before moving to Hirschl & Adler Galleries, where I worked closely with Jim. After more than 6 years at H&A I was ready for a change and heard about the opening at Citi. I welcomed the opportunity to move back into contemporary art and learn the ropes of art advising. Having spent many years at that point as a dealer in modern and contemporary art, it was a fascinating change to advise collectors directly and explore a wider range of art categories. I was active not only in Contemporary art but also American, Latin American and European Impressionist and Modern art. The Art Advisory Service was an incredible education in the auction market at the high end, both as a buyer and a seller; and our work in valuing the art Citibank held as collateral was invaluable in developing expertise in appraising. At one point I had to sell bank collateral into a down market still recovering from the crash of 1990-91 – not an easy task. This taught me to tread carefully when advising clients on how much to pay for a certain work of art. I learned to not only study the current market, but to also think of the consequences if I had the work back to sell in the future. It is hard to predict a bubble, but then again  I learned to be cautious when advising clients to pay over market for works of art. “What it’s worth” and “What you have to pay to get it” are very different things. Most importantly, I learned what a client’s dollars can buy across different art markets and how to discern where the best value resides.

Smith-Sketch for a Sculpture

WHAT ARE BOTH OF YOUR VIEWS ABOUT THE CURRENT MARKET, SPECIFICALLY WITH RESPECT TO MODERNIST WORKS.  HOW RICH IS THE INVENTORY IN THIS PERIOD?

Jim:

You can still find the Modernist masterpiece from time to time, but the possibilities are fewer and fewer.  We are almost a totally pro-active business.  We’re not waiting for someone to knock on our door with a picture under his/her arm.  We’re going after things – important works we know about and objects that we sold way back when that we can try to get back to sell again.

Hartley - Blue Mountain New Mexico

Ann:

Not surprisingly, the market is strongest for the best works. As this market matures, of course, fewer major works come on the market. Luckily for us, this is a market where dealers can compete with the auction houses and many great works do get sold privately. As in any more historical market, we depend on getting works for sale from collectors who are moving to a different collecting area, downsizing their residences, getting divorced, or upgrading to better quality works. As collectors cycle in and out of collecting, and deaccession for estate planning or other reasons, new works do come back to us for sale – and we are very proactive in searching them out. There are always opportunities on the horizon.

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE AS A DEALER AND ADVISOR, I FIND THAT THE THINKING AND ACQUISITION PROCESS DOES DIFFER BETWEEN CLIENTS INTERESTED IN CONTEMPORARY ART AND THOSE INTERESTED IN MORE HISTORICAL PERIODS SUCH AS MODERNISM.  THE PASSION FOR THE WORK, THE INTEREST IN THE ARTIST’S OEUVRE AND PLACE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ART WORLD, AS WELL AS THE EMOTIONAL REACTION TO THE ACTUAL WORK ITSELF ARE ALL SHARED CHARACTERISTICS. IN OUR NEXT BLOG, EXPERTS JAMES REINISH AND ANN YAFFE PHILLIPS WILL EXPLORE THIS TOPIC AND OFFER THEIR SEASONED PERSPECTIVE ON THE FUTURE OF THE MODERNIST MARKET.

LOOKING FORWARD TO OUR NEXT CONVERSATION!

THANKS FOR READING AND TAKING THE TIME TO COMMENT.