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Does the Artist Pension Trust Work?

08/05/2017

In 2004, New York-based businessman Moti Shniberg started the Artist Pension Trust (APT), an alternative retirement plan for contemporary artists. The idea: participating artists give 20 artworks to the fund over 20 years. Then as the collection is sold off over time; all artists in the group share a percentage of the revenue. 

Sales from the collection began in 2016. Sixty works have so far been sold, totaling about $1.2m (US). Twenty-eight per cent ($336k) went to the fund administrators. Forty per cent ($480k) went to the artists who made those 60 works. The remaining 32 per cent ($384k) was shared between the 2,000 artists in the fund, totaling about $192 each. 

Most sales have so far been private. But in March 2017, Sotheby’s New York offered 15 APT works at auction. Thirteen sold. Problem: then 18 works advertised for a second Sotheby’s auction, planned for April in London, were withdrawn after gallerists complained they could fetch higher prices privately. Trust managers are now wondering what exactly could be the best way to sell their collection. While the artists are no doubt wondering whether they could, in the end, do better simply hiding some of their works in a secure storage facility and selling them later themselves, when the time is right.

Image caption: Jeremy Deller, Together 4 Ever, 1998 (APT Collection). Courtesy of Artist Pension Trust.

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