Art And Collectibles as Collateral, Christie’s Lands St. Laurent Collection, Rare Coin Up For Auction

Borrowing against art and collectibles, Christie’s beats out Sotheby’s for St. Laurent’s incredible collection and a superb coin highlight the news.

Art and collectibles as collateral

The skidding economy and the booming art and collectibles world are colliding in ways that can only perplex collectors.

On one hand, high art prices have been a shining beacon in otherwise gloomy portfolios in 2008. The New York Sun reports that wealthy collectors are borrowing against their collections—especially the art hanging on their walls.

Banks and auction houses told the Sun that some clients are using art to finance more art purchases. But others are using the recent spike in fine art and collectibles prices to serve as collateral for loans to purchase undervalued stocks and depressed real estate. Typically banks are offering up to 50% of the value of a painting, important jewelry or other works.

Often, a collector who borrows against his art can keep it on his wall. But banks are taking possession of the collateral when it is jewelry or other collectibles that are highly portable or easily divided.

But in Britain, prices realized at art auctions are stalling after a booming spring.

Summer auctions at Sotheby’s and other houses for Victorian and 20th-century art fell below expectations, with half of the lots failing to sell. High pre-sale estimates are discouraging skittish collectors, dealers told Bloomberg News, and the biggest British collectors like composer Andrew Lloyd Webber have been quiet.

Yves Saint Laurent art valued at nearly $600 million

According to The First Post, a British online magazine, Christie’s has won the battle to sell the renowned art collection of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Valued at nearly $600 million, it will be the biggest art sale in history, including works by Picasso, Mondrian, Warhol, Matisse and Goya, as well as ancient and Renaissance statues. Many of the catwalk creations by the French fashion icon, who died in June, were inspired by his collection. It will be held in Paris’s Grand Palais.

Superb U.S. coin to be auctioned

Stack’s Rare Coins is selling one of the rarest and best American coins—the Norweb 1797 MS-66 half dollar coin—at its Baltimore auction on July 28. The draped-bust, small-eagle half-dollar was designed by the Philadelphia Mint’s early engraver Robert Scot. It was reported that 3,918 were struck for the combined 1796 and 1797 mintage with fewer than 100 surviving and only a few in mint state. It previously was in the collection of Emery May Holden Norweb. When her heirs sold the coin in 1988, it fetched $220,000. CoinLink provides detailed background on the collection.