The Artist Pension Trust, a collection of contemporary art that doubles as a mutual fund, has announced that it has made its first dividends to more than 400 artists participating in its New York and Los Angeles trusts “after a successful sales pilot,” according to a press release. The artists have received payments between $200 to $1,700.
APT, which was founded in 2004, bills itself as “the only service providing long-term financial security to artists.” Its business model requires chosen artists—including Mark Bradford, Nina Beier, Daniel Arsham, and Rob Pruitt, among 2,000 other artists from 75 countries—to give artwork, which is then held in APT’s collection for around 10 years “to generate optimum returns.” When the artwork is sold, the artists receive 40 percent of the sale. A remaining 32 percent goes into a fund benefiting all participating artists, of which each artists receives an annual portion, and the remaining money is put aside for investors and the trust itself. In the pilot sale, $452,085 of work by New York artists was sold, meaning that the artists collectively received $69,529. A total of $234,807 of work by artists from Los Angeles was sold, and that group collectively received $75,138. Sales are not held on a regular basis; according to a 2014 article in the New York Observer, “a committee decides the timing of the sales, which are done privately.”
In addition to New York and Los Angeles, APT has also set up artist pools in London, Berlin, and Beijing, as well as four other unnamed cities. The company currently owns 14,000 works of art and as a result is considered one of the largest privately-owned collections of contemporary art in the world, the value of which is estimated to be approximately $100 million.
APT employs around 100 curators to judge artist applications and decide which artists may join the trust. (Interested artists can apply here.) Notably, APT also attempts to boost the value of its artists by loaning their work out to major international museums such as the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, and KunstHalle by Deutsche Bank.
You can read Walid Raad’s semi-fictional essay, “Walkthrough, Part I,” which was inspired by APT, here.