Die Zeit Interview with Phillip Hoffman

Phillip Hoffman is interviewed by Eva Karcher for Die Zeit and comments on the process of creating his art fund, how these funds work and then the role of art advisory within the business before finishing by covering the growth of the art lending business.

Phillip recounts the story of The Fine Art Group’s inception and how his career in the art world began in 1989 when he became Finance Director at Christie’s. It was whilst working for the auction house that Phillip heard tales from clients of Canaletto’s which had been bought for £30,000 and sold for £3 million. After seeing similar cases with Picasso and Monet, Phillip decided that there was an opportunity to buy art that you love and at the same time turn a profit. The dialogue revolving around art as an investment was undeveloped in the late 1980s and 1990s but by the turn of the millennium attitudes had begun to change. Globalisation brought more investors to the art market and the profit aspect was brought to the fore. This then provided Phillip with the idea to bring art closer to wealthy investors and help them to diversify into a new asset class.

Phillip tells Die Ziet that the first fund was launched in 2001 and constituted £25 million for private investors. The focus for investment is Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary pieces. Phillip explains the variety of requests The Group caters to, from clients searching for an individual piece, or looking at creating or expanding a collection, ‘either out of passion or as an investment – or both!’.

The Fine Art Group’s unique positioning due to its contacts with galleries, auction houses and art fair directors allows them to stay ‘ahead of the curve’ and to help make the best choices for their clients. Phillip interestingly highlighted that ‘more often than not, we advise our customers against purchases. On a month to month basis we reject 95% of the art we value’.

The interviewer ends by asking which art The Fine Art Group is most interested in investing in and how they hope to make an impact in the German market. Phillip explains that they cover a breadth of artists across the Impressionist, Modern Art and Contemporary periods both more established senior artists and younger artists appearing on the primary market. To finish, he concludes that ‘Germany is a key market for us and hope to convince the collectors to work with us through our years of expertise and track record. We want to educate the German markets understanding of art as an asset class. Art can be both passion and investment’.

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