Investing in artworks becomes more and more popular among IT entrepreneurs today. You can see real art galleries in the offices of large companies such as Microsoft, Netscape, Andreessen Horowitz, and others. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has invested over $100 million in art. During his lifetime, the businessman owned a private collection that included 300 pieces of art that were exhibited to the general public.
One of the businessmen who follows the same approach is Ruslan Tymofieiev (Ruslan Timofeev), the founder of venture fund Adventurеs Lab. In the company’s portfolio, there are such famous startups as Reface, Streamhero, Edudo, and SALO.
Tymofieiev collects artworks of leading Ukrainian and foreign artists and uses the art to decorate the office of his company and to organize various exhibitions and art events. One of these exhibitions—on the development of contemporary art in Ukraine during the perestroika (“restructuring”) period and the first years of the country’s independence—opened in early November at the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey. Tymofieiev believes that one should invest in the paintings of Ukrainian artists and other cultural events, thereby increasing the status of Ukrainian art in the international arena.
Paintings as social capital
In the last century, wealthy people—industrialists, bankers, financiers, and businessmen—actively started to invest in works of art. Large-business owners invested in what would never depreciate, i.e., paintings, sculptures, designer items made of precious metals.
Thus, the American trader Steve Cohen invested in the works of Picasso, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and others. Charles Saatchi, the founder of one of the world’s largest advertising agencies M&C Saatchi, owns a unique collection of contemporary art at the Saatchi Gallery. There are exhibited paintings by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
It seems quite reasonable that in the era of high technologies, large investments in the art can be afforded by representatives of IT, one of the most profitable industries today.
“Paul Allen used to hold major art festivals, open museums and galleries, paid record amounts for paintings by abstract artists at auctions. Another good example is Marc Andreessen. When he founded Andreessen Horowitz, he hung paintings by pop-art legend Robert Rauschenberg in his office. Books, paintings, and glassware give the company credibility—this is the advice Marc got from Michael Ovitz, the most powerful talent manager in Hollywood and a famous collector,” says Ruslan Tymofieiev.
The founder of Adventures Lab emphasizes that investing in art is part of building social capital.
“It is not only about the stories that accompany each piece of art but also the value of these stories to people around. It’s very interesting to keep track of who owns the art pieces: who sells them, who buys them, and how the paintings acquire their value. There is also the art of bargaining in the world of visual arts. Sometimes, they cost millions. That’s really interesting and that gives me experience that has helped me several times in closing business deals. For example, once I came to meet a famous Ukrainian businessman at his office. Usually at work meetings, I barely ever make small talk since we all appreciate our time. But in the office of that man, I saw a gallery of paintings. So, I could not resist talking about it. Eventually, it helped me quickly find a common language and approach,” says the businessman.
Office as a gallery
According to international research, employees tend to feel better and more comfortable in companies with offices decorated with paintings. Recruiters and HR specialists note that employees come to the office with greater pleasure as they develop a special attitude towards their workspace.
The office of Adventures Lab is also decorated with artwork. These are paintings by modern Ukrainian artists.
“Today, our office is a good example of the way the IT cluster is interested in art. Thanks to well-chosen paintings, we’ve managed to create a special mood in the working and recreation areas. Paintings depicting athletes from the Ultra C series by Victor Sydorenko drive people with the joy of work, motivate them to move forward, to get achievements, and act in the face of challenging tasks. In the café area, on the contrary, we’ve placed funky pop-art that puts you imto a relaxing mood,” shares Ruslan Tymofieiev (Ruslan Timofeev).
Adventures Lab is not the only company that fills the workspace with art. For example, SupportYourApp and coworking space Kooperativ, both located in Kyiv, are gradually turning their offices into modern art galleries with paintings that cost from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Giving While Living is a popular trend in the world. It really appeals to me. It’s much better to spend money on sustaining viable initiatives rather than hoarding until you die. And I believe in the vitality of art more than in anything else,” sums up Tymofieiev.
The founder of Adventures Lab invests not only in artworks of established artists but also in the works of newcomers.
“It’s easy to compare them to startups that you really believe in. And it’s nice to see how the capitalization of the startup/painting is growing. I believe this is the best combination of a pragmatic approach with aesthetics,” he says.
According to the founder of Adventures Lab, purchasing paintings by Ukrainian artists can enhance the reputation of Ukrainian art at the international level. By placing the artworks of Ukrainian artists in their offices, IT entrepreneurs not only help the artists but also acquaint foreign partners with contemporary art of Ukraine, thereby increasing the value and significance of these works.