Will your children share your love of art?

Passions don't always span generations. Learn the novel ways collectors are creating a legacy with their art.

04 Jan 2019

Some wealthy families have a secret when it comes to their art collection: The adult children don't share their parents' tastes. In fact, many like the monetary value of their parents' collections more than the objects themselves.

A collection may represent what was once popular and interesting, but tastes change with time, explains Doug Woodham, managing director of Art Fiduciary Advisors and a former President of Christie's Americas. "When tastes change, the children of collectors aren't necessarily in sync with what their parents collected."

UBS sat down with Woodham and John Mathews, UBS Head of Private Wealth Management (PWM) and Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) for Wealth Management USA, to discuss collecting and legacy planning. Their conversation came on the heels of the record-breaking estate sale of the late David Rockefeller—once the world's oldest billionaire—and his wife Peggy, held in May 2018. The three-day event brought in $833 million for charities the couple had been involved with.

Reluctant to see their art put in storage or sold carelessly, the Rockefellers auctioned the pieces to ensure they ended up with owners who most appreciated them.

Planning can help keep collectors' passions alive, even if their children have no desire to pursue them. According to a new UBS Investor Watch Pulse: Art in motion—released in December to coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach—58% of art collectors are worried their heirs won't know how to care for their collection. That's why many collectors today are now having conversations about other ways of creating a legacy with their collections, including working alongside public museums and even starting private museums, as part of the planning process.

"Many times I tell people one way to keep your wealth is actually by giving it away," concludes Mathews.