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Are Family Offices Becoming The New Art Patrons?

Randall Willette, Managing Director - Fine Art Wealth Management, 20 March 2012

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In March, many sophisticated art collectors will bring their best works out of safekeeping for Maastricht, the most important fair of the year. Collecting families with exceptional art wealth will exhibit some of their most treasured possessions in this small Dutch town situated at the southernmost end of the Netherlands.

Editor's note: Randall Willette is a member of the editorial board at Family Wealth Report’s sister publication WealthBriefing.

This month, many important art business owning families and sophisticated collectors will bring their best works out of safekeeping for Maastricht, the most important fair of the year. Collecting families with exceptional art wealth will exhibit some of their most treasured possessions in this small Dutch town situated at the southernmost end of the Netherlands.

The European Fine Art Fair celebrates its twenty-fifth year in 2012 and art experts put its longevity and status as the world's leading art and antiques fair down to what some might call distinctly old-fashioned European family values. By all accounts the fair is bigger and better than ever with a particularly strong turn out by well-established collecting families from around the world.

It may not be usual to associate fine art and wealth management at first glance. There is, however, a long history in the collection of beautiful objects by wealthy European families and the discreet management of their wealth by a close group of professional advisors.

Art patronage has a long history in European culture and is responsible for some of the best artistic achievements of all ages. Although the Renaissance is regarded as the golden age of patronage, art still plays a crucial role in the portfolio of ultra high net worth families.

Today’s global financial families have a great deal in common and are committed to growing and preserving assets for future generations. High-quality works of art with strong provenance have become a safe haven in the current economic environment. Culture, traditions, and values vary widely between Americans, Europeans and Asian family offices, however all seem to agree that art can provide a long term store of value.

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