Art by the yard!

The walls are in bleached sycamore; the matte-white Bulthaup kitchen has a granite work top; the bath is by Agape, the taps by Vola.



By Richard Holledge (LIFESTYLE)

Published: Sat 24 Sep 2011, 8:32 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:00 AM

But these are all but routine attractions in London’s seemingly unstoppable super prime real estate market. So some developers and real estate agents would tell you that what those sycamore walls really need to complete the image of fashionable wealth is a work of art - whether it is a Renoir, an ersatz Matisse or just some random abstract.

Consider Neo Bankside, which eventually will arise as four glistening pavilions alongside the Tate Modern Gallery on Thameside. With two of the pavilions completed and 105 of the 270 apartments sold, Nick Evans, sales and marketing director of the developer Native Land, is finding that most of the new owner-occupiers “tend to be arty.” So the buildings are like informal galleries, with paintings in the lobbies, on the landings and lining every available wall in the show apartments.

“We have buyers who want exactly the same look as the main show apartment,” Evans added, estimating that buying all the apartment fixtures and the artwork would add 300,000 pounds, or $486,000, to the price. The interior designer Anthony Collett has gone for “simple lines” in the apartments, which cost 5 million pounds, or $7.8 million, for 3,000 square feet, or about 278 square meters, and boast huge triangular windows overlooking the Tate, the Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

With Neo Bankside attracting buyers from 22 countries, Native Land does not attempt to match the art to national and cultural preferences but it does try to be sensitive to them. In contrast, Sotheby’s International Realty can, and does, identify the tastes of various nationalities thanks to its relationship with the auction house of the same name.

“We target buyers very deliberately,” said Charles Smith, the agency’s managing director. “For example, in the foyer of the Bond Street auction house we have a display of our properties which we adjust to suit the art being auctioned.”

Russians buy Russian art, so during those auctions he said the agency would show properties in favoured locations like the Knightsbridge and Mayfair sections of London, the French resort of Courchevel and the South of France.

Alex Michelin, director of the niche developers Finchatton, said, “Art is absolutely integral to the level of design we offer and therefore to the sale. Almost 75 per cent of our clients buy the entire contents of the show house - lock, stock and barrel - so we do not see the art as an extra.” The company’s latest project, a three-bedroom triplex in Manresa Road, Chelsea, has pieces specially created by the British company Quintessa Art Collection, which Finchatton describes as a “bespoke artwork manufacturer.”

The developer’s publicity describes the process as: “Customising the painting allowed Finchatton to tailor the size and style to our interior design. A palette that harmonised with the color scheme and selected oil on canvas was chosen to further enhance the luxurious quality of the rich furniture finishes.”

At this point, the fine line between art and slick designer accessories becomes blurred. Art by the yard? Perhaps.

Temptingly displayed alongside the essential accoutrements of a superprime apartment - shelves of shining glassware, rows of cutlery on dining room tables the size of tennis courts - is the original Renoir pastel “Bather in Profile” and a version of Rodin’s “The Kiss.” They are for sale but, as Paul Green, president of the Halcyon Gallery in Bruton Street, which provided the works, said: “The key thing is to match fine art with fine design and to marry one beautifully with the other. They enhance the value of the apartment.

©IHT


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