It’s not unheard of for successful companies to invest in the creation of an art collection, but a new consultancy firm is working to introduce contemporary pieces as future classics. AG Holdings–founded by Japanese businessman and former Sotheby’s auctioneer, Tetsuji Shibayama–advises corporate clients, such as Mitsubishi’s Art Gate Program.
After attending Harvard Business School, Shibayama moved through a series of positions in the States before moving back to head Sotheby’s in Japan. Combined with his business acumen, working at Sotheby’s taught him to think of art as an investment and as a commodity. One of the foremost lessons for investing is to buy low and sell high. Shibayama has taken this lesson to heart by keeping an eye out for young artists, but also works to ensure the next generation are supported by the corporate networks in their communities.
For instance, Mitsubishi’s Art Gate Program buys more than 200 pieces of work from emerging Japanese artists and shows them in corporate galleries, before they are auctioned off to support scholarship funds for art students. Shibayama also shares his knowledge on the intersection of arts and business with students at Gakushuin University, where he teaches. His newest project identifies ways that Japan’s changing agricultural infrastructure could be repurposed as spaces for art-making.
AG Holdings not only views art as a tool for corporations to connect with their local communities, but also as a vehicle for reimagining the intersection of the private and public sector.
Photo by Benjamin Parks/GPA.