The Art Angle podcast

How the Artist Pension Trust Became a Gigantic Fiasco

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Everyone knows the dirty little secret of the dog-eat-dog art market, which is that while an artist creates the artwork, the vast majority of the value of that artwork is created—and captured—by others, from the 50 percent that goes to the dealer to the multiples made by the collectors who flip if the artist gets hot. But what if there was a way for artists to protect themselves from this kind of exploitation, by banding together and pooling their art together into a fund to provide a safety net against the vicissitudes of the market, where all artists—hot and not alike—benefit from the rising values of rising stars? Well, something like that does exist, and it’s called the Artist Pension Trust, which since 2004 has enlisted hundreds of artists behind this common cause. The only catch? It is apparently too good to be true—at least if you go by the maelstrom of threats of lawsuits, recriminations, and accusations that have sprang up around the trust in recent years. So, what went wrong with the utopian project of the Artist Pension Trust? And who is behind it, anyway? To find out, Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin spoke to reporter Catherine Wagley about her recent investigation into the one art fund everyone wanted to root for. Enjoy the conversation, and for the full story, check out Catherine’s riveting two-part series on Artnet.

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