In a discussion with Marcelo García Casil, CEO of Maecenas, Art World Forum finds out more about the platform, how it seeks to position itself in the art market and its achievements so far.
What is Maecenas?
Maecenas is a new platform whose objective is to simplify the way investors access fine art. With issues relating to the expertise and management of owning art as an investment including storage, condition maintenance and cost of insurance are all extremely real problems.
Each asset class has different exposures to market dynamics and different growth potentials depending on chosen strategies.
Fine art is a new market to me and it is incredibly different to invest in. The main mission is to present fine art as a first class citizen to investors, position it as a suitable asset, enabling them to be involved in the process, with liquidity potentials – which is something almost impossible today.
At Maecenas we leverage blockchain to significantly reduce the costs of structuring investments and to execute transactions, exchanging your currency for exposure in fine art. One challenge that comes with investing in art is that you don’t have the chance to showcase your exposure. You have to look for works that suit your investment profile and vary in price.
You have received a lot of press recently and your platform has been referred to as “democratising the arts” and making the arts more “accessible”. Do you think accessibility is something that has been lacking in the market?
Absolutely. One thing I learnt first-hand were the nuances of investing in art. Despite your interest in investing in art, your budget may be capped at USD $500,000 but your eye is set on Picasso’s and Monet’s. You don’t have much of a chance in owning any of these works that fall in the $5-6M price bracket at best. Focusing on investment history, provenance and high-brow you’re trapped in a situation where you have the funds, but you’re not betting on the retail market. You need to do the research that comes with managing your wealth.
Lack of access to these very attractive asset classes is a big problem.
By fractionalising the size of the investment and organising private auctions which cater for more than just a single buyer, you broaden your audience to cater for a series of investors from around the world who can participate. The advantages coupled with this are that the investor has the chance to express his/her investment without tackling storage, preservation and management because it is arranged and managed by a third party.
Close to 40% of lots at auction fail to sell at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, which is a bold risk for investors looking to liquidate. The reason for the latter is because the auction sale is looking for a single buyer who has enough capital and purchasing power to fully own the work. Comparatively, our approach is to target investors around the world who merely need an internet connection and an account on our platform. There is no need to physically be there.
We see ourselves as a facilitators of innovation.
Maecenas recently launched their first art blockchain auction with 100 hand-picked investors from Asia and Europe. How would you say collectors have reacted to platforms like yours?
We appreciate that we are a young company in a big conservative market. Naturally, there are a lot of concerns. This is a market that runs on reputation. Industry leaders have been around for centuries and despite their imperfections they are trusted.
Our platform is seen as being efficient and transparent, less costly but there are concerns. As a new company we do our best to reassure our clients by demonstrating our established track record. With over 1000 people signing up to our first auction, we sold 30% of the work’s ownership for just less than $2M.