Introducing Dana Prussian, Bank of America Private Bank Art Services, combining business acumen and a passion for art

Dana Prussian
VP, Art Services, Bank of America Private Bank

IN MARCH 2016, THE NEW YORK TIMES PUBLISHED A STUDY ON A TREND IN THE ART MARKET WHICH HAS BEEN ON THE RISE  FOR AT LEAST THE LAST DECADE: ART AS AN ALTERNATIVE ASSET AND AS COLLATERAL FOR A LOAN.

Highlights from

ART AS COLLATERAL IN A FICKLE MARKET, Scott Rayburn, March 7, 2016, New York Times

Art and money have long been closely linked, but in the 21st century, it seems, the two have become synonymous.

One way to extract the latter from the former is art-based lending, in which paintings or sculptures are used as collateral for loans. Now that the notoriously fickle and opaque art market is seemingly headed toward a downturn, with money tighter and the prices of many artworks lower, will this kind of niche financing become more attractive to collectors?

Art lenders who have offered full-recourse loans, secured by a range of personal assets, have faced unfavorable publicity. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the photographer Annie Leibovitz pledged her four homes and the rights to her images to secure a $24 million loan from Art Capital. She was unable to service the debt, and a high-profile court action ensued.

“This is an opportunity,” Andrea Danese, a co-founder of Athena and the company’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview. Mr. Danese said there was potentially about $150 billion worth of art in private hands that could be collateralized. He identified three groups to whom his company’s products might appeal.

“First, there are billionaires who put the money into private equity deals, where they make 20 to 25 percent,” he said. “Then there are collectors with, say, $30 million of art they leverage to buy another piece. And thirdly there are the art-rich and cash-poor in their 70s and 80s who don’t want to sell because of capital gains or estate taxes.”

But art lenders, like pawnbrokers, can get a boost when markets dip.

THIS UNPRECEDENTED DEVELOPMENT IN THE ART MARKET OVER THE LAST DECADE HAS RESULTED IN A FOCUS ON THE FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF ART. ART IS SEEN NOT ONLY AS AN OBJECT THAT IS AESTHETIC PLEASING OR CHALLENGING AND INTELLECTUALLY FULFILLING BUT ALSO AS A NEW ALTERNATIVE ASSET CLASS OFFERING INTERESTING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES. THUS, IT HAS PRODUCED AN OPPORTUNITY FOR EXPERTS IN THE FINANCIAL WORLD WHO ARE INTERESTED IN ART TO ENJOY EXCITING AND INNOVATIVE CAREERS THAT COMBINE THE TWO.

DANA PRUSSIAN, VICE PRESIDENT, ART SERVICES AT BANK OF AMERICA PRIVATE BANK, IS AN IMPRESSIVE, ARTICULATE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE WOMAN WHO IS  APPLYING HER INVESTMENT AND FINANCIAL BACKGROUND AND TRAINING TO ASSIST INDIVIDUAL COLLECTORS  AND ART INSTITUTIONS IN THE ACQUISITION, DONATION AND DEACCESSION ART AND TO USE ART AS AN ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENT VEHICLE.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden

THE LRFA BLOG IS HONORED TO WELCOME DANA PRUSSIAN.

DANA, SO MANY THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE LRFA BLOG. WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? DID YOU HAVE AN INTEREST IN ART AT AN EARLY AGE AND, IF SO, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

I grew up in Louisville. My parents encouraged me to be active in the arts- I danced with the Louisville Ballet, took acting classes, played the violin. I’m not sure where my interest in fine art came about, though I do remember being obsessed with Linnea in Monet’s Garden when I was very young. Did anyone else have that doll? Book? Video? Childhood affinity for Giverny?

Diego Rivera Industry Murals
Detroit Institute of the Arts

WAS YOUR FAMILY INTERESTED IN OR COLLECT ART?

Not particularly, but my family has always supported the arts, whether it was the symphony, the theater, or the ballet. Much of my extended family lives in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and my aunt was a docent at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) while I was growing up. I vividly remember visiting Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals and the beautifully intricate Dutch Golden Age paintings.

Gerard der Borch, The Younger
Lady at Her Toilette
Collection of the Detroit Institute of the Arts

WHAT IS YOUR ACADEMIC BACKGROUND?

I moved to New York City 10 years ago to attend Barnard College at Columbia University where I received a degree in both Art History and Political Science. It was really my secondary school that influenced me more than anything. I went to Louisville Collegiate School, which is this very close-knit, traditional college prep school, and I still feel endlessly lucky to have attended. We had a required course, HATA (or, History and the Arts) that was a two-year world history class with corresponding art, dance, music, and religion. It was my first serious exposure to art history and the material was woven in this organic, experiential way. After that course, I moved right into AP Art History, and it was a love story from there. I ended up passing out of the first three levels of art history when I arrived at Columbia. Even though I was so influenced by Collegiate, that there is nothing, NOTHING like being an Art History student in New York City. My senior seminar was at the Met on Monday mornings (the good old days when the Met was closed on Mondays and we essentially had the museum to ourselves), and I vividly remember meeting classmates on the Met steps on crisp autumn mornings, taking class with one of the Met’s curators, and then heading down 5th avenue to Christie’s for my fall internship. You simply cannot replicate that experience anywhere else.

Johannes Vermeer
Young Woman with a Pitcher
Metropolitan Museum of Art

WHAT DID YOU INTEND YOUR CAREER PATH TO BE WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED WORKING?

My exact role, except it did not exist when I graduated!

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, DANA WILL START TO DETAIL HER PROFESSIONAL ROLES THAT LEAD HER TO HER CURRENT POSITION. GREAT INSIGHTS FOR EVERYONE INTERESTED IN COLLECTING OR IN FOLLOWING IN HER FOOTSTEPS!

PLEASE JOIN US!