Let’s say you’re an investor looking to put your money down on the next mega-art trend. Or say you’re an artist looking to be discovered. Or, for art’s sake, if you want to support the art market ‘without breaking the bank’ – their words not ours – Feral Horses believes it can give you a way to do it.
Feral Horses is an art start-up that is promoting the concept of fractional ownership through crowdfunding of art. The London-based company was founded in 2017 and raised £121,000 in its first six weeks, through the sale of 17 works by 11 artists based throughout Europe, according to artnet. And it now has over 5,000 users on its platform.
What fractional ownership of art means is that the total price of an artwork is divided and offered as individual shares – as little as 0.01 per cent of an art piece’s price (that’s £10/$12) for a £100,000 artwork – to investors who can (hopefully) watch it grow in value over time. Here, of course, “value” is synonymous with price. Artistic value is something else.
Lise Arlot, one of the co-founders of Feral Horses, said, “We sell art in shares. It is an investment opportunity for the 99 per cent of art buyers, who have the chance to attend art events and engage with art without collecting.”
So how does it work?
Artworks in the Feral Horses collection go live as campaigns every month. These campaigns then remain open for variable amounts of time. Some of the current campaigns are open for another 14 days, 17 days and 202 days respectively. For example, a £24,000 Banksy signed print entitled Soup Can 7/10, which is 90% sold and open for another 11 days, offers shares at £24 apiece and going up to £600 for 25 shares.
Then, fractional owners of artworks are notified each time the work is publicly displayed. They are invited to studio visits and gallery openings and have the chance to interact with the artists as well as with other co-owners. The money raised through Feral Horses is then used, with the help of the sellers, to fuel other art initiatives and to raise the profile of artists through participation in fairs.
Arlot said the model was attractive to collectors who had annual quotas to invest in art. She said: “It’s a way for them to keep supporting artists and having some sort of patronising interaction without necessarily adding a work to their collection.”
She added that, often, commercially successful collectors will jump at the opportunity of investing in non-residential artworks such as installations.
And lastly, when the artwork is resold privately or publicly, its realised price is divided proportionally among the co-owners.
What’s in it for:
Private collectors often do not have the time to arrange museum loans or engage galleries to display their art publicly. Here’s where companies like Feral Horses can come to their aid. This summer, for example, Feral Horses helped one collector sell a privately held work to 1,157 co-owners through one of its campaigns.
Although the potential payoff for investors is very little, Feral Horses allows them to feel the pulse of the market and its current investment trends. That’s not to mention the low risk of losing one’s shirt on a much smaller investment.
Feral Horses is targeting art as an experience-led asset, making it accessible to a wider public. Arlot said: “We asked our users who their dream artists were and 54 per cent of those surveyed said they would want to co-own a Banksy.”
She adds that, if one is to benefit from higher prices, the minimum holding period for an artwork is two years and can be as long as 10 years. And if users choose to exit before the work is resold by Feral Horses, they can use a system of exchange – not to be confused with a stock exchange – although, only small percentage of people have opted for this.
“We do not make big promises about how much users can earn every year. Users invest with us for the long-term experiences in the art market,” she added.
It does, however, depend on where the artworks are displayed. One artist the company works with, David Aiu Servan-Schreiber, had the value (read price) of his work double in the past two years. His work has been exhibited internationally in spaces such as Sotheby’s, Rosewood London and Art Paris. A series of 17 artworks are currently on show at the London restaurant and members’ club Coya, Mayfair.
Arlot said the investment side of art is a big driving factor for the platform. “I’m always stressing that investment is not a bad word. We need investment in this industry, to support the artists and their work,” she said.