Corporate Art Collecting: The Long Term Beneficial Force Multipliers

Office Environment: Wellbeing, Health, Motivation and Productivity

A study by Dr Craig Knight from Exeter University School of Psychology found that people working in enriched spaces were 17% more productive than those in lean spaces. Employee morale and inspiration are also boosted, which is significant if we consider that a full-time employee spends on average 30% of their life at work.

“Staff costs typically account for about 90% of the operating costs of a business. Even a modest improvement in employee wellbeing and productivity can have a significant financial implication for employers” (Rachel Wevill & Beth Ambrose, Estates Gazette)

 Publicity, Marketing and Global Outreach

An inevitable publicity and marketing implement where online (website, email updates, virtual tours, apps, social media et cetera) and written (catalogues, publications, newsletters, articles et cetera) information ultimately all lead back to your company. Art is global and combined with the power of online application this will boost your global outreach; how much is this worth today?

“This differentiates us from other companies, and it makes us closer to our customers and understanding their needs” (Silke Kastien, Head of Group Marketing at AXA)

 Identity and Image

The collection and the way you run it can show off your ethos; it can embody your corporate culture, image and enhance your reputation whilst giving you an edge. Art collections differentiate rather than aggregate.   

“Art has become part of the Macquarie signature. In any office around the world, Macquarie is recognisable by their logo and their art” (Helen Burton, Manager of the Macquarie Group Collection)

Case Study: Cartier was so reviled in France that the company was almost nationalised. Through a successful arts programme, it is now hailed by the public whilst enhancing its international profile  

Win Business

The collection can be utilised to maintain and win business; the collection can become an important networking tool with current and prospective clients and applicants (many will already be interested in art and collect themselves). The artists and their contacts could also become your valuable long term clients.  

“A collaborator said that she came to us because we had a different way of thinking and she was really impressed with the collection” (Loa Haagen Pictet, Head Curator of the Pictet Collection)

Case Study: Simmons & Simmons was an early supporter of both Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin who went on to become clients


The collection can be passed on crystallising your company in time; it will live on yet continue to evolve. You could celebrate a company landmark by starting a collection. Many corporations build museums for their collections.

Case Study: The JPMorgan Chase Collection is one of the oldest and largest corporate collections and stands as a model for future collections

Case Study: China Minsheng Bank has built museums for their collection and projects in Shanghai and Beijing   

Philanthropy and Culture

What other philanthropic activities do you conduct? Art collecting can be a key part of your philanthropic arm as you are supporting culture and people; providing the artists with a platform for success. Many see shaping the cultural landscape as a duty.

“Deutsche Bank considers art as part of its identity. Supporting art as a creative endeavour is an important part of being a good corporate citizen, and giving back not only to society but to the places, the cities, and communities where the bank is doing business” (Liz Christensen, Curator, Deutsche Bank)

Divergent Thinking and Innovation

Art can offer a release from the constant engagement with technology. Being exposed to art encourages a process of looking, not forced deliberation, opening the mind to other possibilities and perhaps in time even new levels of perception. Thus, one can experience the world with more sensitivity acting as a catalyst triggering sparks of creativity. A daily reminder of people’s humanity and creativity.

“The art collection and the bank are two parallel worlds that at first sight might seem to exist side by side but which, if you look more closely, challenge and cross-fertilise each other…like them (artists) we’re rooted in tradition but also looking for new ways to do things. And we too are constantly having to transform yesterday into today and tomorrow” (Frank Elderson, Executive Director of De Nederlandsche Bank)

Case Study: Harvard medics study artworks in museums through ‘active looking’. They are encouraged to discuss their observations and the range of possibilities. Research suggests that these students can make nearly 40% more clinical observations than those who have not taken the course (Harvard Study, 2008). Thus, it leads to more accurate and faster diagnoses in their professional lives 

Approach and Investment Potential

There is no reason why collecting cannot start with small budgets with the aim to collect ahead of the drumbeat. We employ the art world’s rigorous tried and tested validation procedure on all artists and artworks. Large budgets can be an obstacle to success.

“Great collections often begin with small budgets and are driven by one person. They certainly do not start with large budgets” (Stephen Barber, Head of Group Corporate Communications, Pictet Group

In time, you could make a financial return. By reinvesting the profits, the collection could become self-sustaining. 

“We’re not buying for investment. But we’re not buying for not investment” (Liz Christensen, Deutsche Bank Curator)

“It is doubtful whether collectors have ever been unmindful of the investment value of art” (Richard Rush, 1961, ‘Art as an Investment’

Case Study: Stuart Evans, founder and curator of the Simmons & Simmons Collection, bought Peter Doig’s ‘Iron Hill’ for a few thousand pounds but the value increased so quickly that it was sold for insurance reasons. It was sold for £500,000 (its current value is now around £7 million) allowing the collection to become self-sustaining 


From the Corporate Art Collecting Series.

14 + 9 =