Major new Russian art investment fund launched

The Moscow stock exchange recently listed Sobranie.Photoeffect, a major art investment fund, established by the Russian asset management firm Agana. Valued at US$ 467 million, the fund deals exclusively with photographs and holds over 290,000 original prints.

 Instead of raising money from wealthy individuals to buy art, it has obtained its works from a group of anonymous Russian collectors, the Financial Times reports. The fund will sell five to 10 percent of its stock at auction every year, paying its final dividends after 15 years and then ceasing to exist, according to Reuters. The fund expects to provide annual returns of about 12 to 14 percent.

With a minimum investment of US $16,700, Agana hopes to attract institutional and large private investors. If the fund takes off, additional listings on international markets, such as London and Luxembourg, will be considered. Art investment companies have recently gained in popularity, with the new funds launching in China and France in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The London-based Fine Art Fund Group recently signed a deal with Emirates NBD, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, to provide art investment consulting services to the bank’s private clients.

Among the fund’s photographic commodities are rare 19th-century daguerrotypes by Joseph-Philbert Girault de Prangey; prints by Tazio Secchiaroli, who was Sophia Loren‘s personal photographer and has been called the father of the paparazzi; works by the celebrated French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson; and prints by the Soviet avant-garde artist Alexander Rodchenko. Nineteenth-century portraits of the tsars are also part of the fund’s holdings, along with Soviet photographs from World War II.

Russia has seen an explosion of art-market activity in recent years, as the country’s oligarchs have purchased artworks as financial investments and for cultural cachet. According to Reuters, Russia’s only other art fund, Atlanta Art, is valued atUS$ 4.7 million and just began trading last month.