Introducing Level & Co., a New Masterworks Subsidiary Launched by Evan Beard

    What would it feel like to say you owned, even partially, a painting by one of the most respected artists of all time? How would purchasing a piece by Basquiat or Warhol influence your investment portfolio, and your opportunities for wealth generation? These are the questions that Evan Beard aimed to answer when he joined the Masterworks team as an Executive Vice President, and with the recent launch of the Level & Co. gallery in New York, the answers are changing.

    Over the years, Evan has made a name for himself as a pioneer in the ground-breaking space of art finance. His journey into the art investment landscape began more than a decade ago, at Deloitte, where he built an art financing department as a strategy manager for the team. 

    Eventually, in 2016, Beard joined the Bank of America, as a Managing Director of National Art Services, and then the Head of Speciality Segments, before eventually pivoting into his EVP position with a company considered to be one of the most innovative brands in the art investment sector. 

    Now, Beard is building on his experience with Masterworks, the growing fractional art investment platform, with a new venture, Level & Co. 

    So, what can we expect from the next stage in the innovator’s career?

    To answer that question, we need to take a closer look not just at the Level & Co. proposition, but at the Masterworks platform’s model, which has helped pave the way to the democratization of alternative investments.

    Changing the Art Industry: An Introduction to Masterworks 

    Even before joining the Masterworks team, Evan Beard was one of the first finance experts in our generation to truly understand the potential of art as an investment asset. However, it wasn’t until the launch of the Masterworks app in 2017, that he was able to start exploring new ways of bringing art opportunities to the masses. 

    On the surface, the concept behind Masterworks is simple. It’s a fintech platform that allows people from anywhere in the world to make fractional investments in physical painting and artworks, produced by some of the best-known creators of all time. Based on its own data collection and analysis methods, the Masterworks team selects art pieces most likely to generate high returns for investors. 

    After choosing and acquiring pieces, the team creates LLCs dedicated to each specific painting, then allowing platform members to buy shares in those LLCs. This means that when Masterworks eventually sells the art following a period of appreciation, every shareholder gets to split the profits. 

    The idea is straightforward enough, but it represents a transformational step in investment history, changing blue-chip art into an accessible asset class for investors. Risks and profits are both pooled, allowing new art investors to dip their toes into the market at their own pace. 

    Presenting an entirely novel concept to the financial landscape helped Masterworks to skyrocket in popularity within a relatively short space of time. The company raised an impressive $110 million in Series A funding during 2021, at a valuation of more than $1 billion, and today it has hundreds of paintings on offer.

    Funding the Democratization of Art Investment 

    Working with Masterworks clearly offered Evan Beard the ability to manifest new perspectives on the art landscape, and how companies can work with investors, large and small, to change the financial world. Adding fine art to an investment portfolio delivers a host of benefits, in the right circumstances. 

    Not only does it assist investors in diversifying their portfolio beyond common options like bonds and stocks, but it also provides access to an “uncorrelated asset.” This means the value of art moves independently of the stock market, providing extra wealth protection in times of economic uncertainty. Indeed, blue-chip art has outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 250% since 2000, and is widely considered a less volatile, more reliable solution to the stock market. 

    Although art might not deliver returns as quickly as some riskier assets, investors are also less likely to lose significant amounts of money, particularly when they’re investing in some of the greatest pieces ever produced. This is one of the reasons why Masterworks invests so much effort in identifying assets that are likely to grow in value over time. 

    For instance, in 2019, the company acquired an iconic Mona Lisa painting produced by Banksy, and one year later, sold it for an annualized return of 32%. 

    The Next Step for Evan Beard and Masterworks: Level & Co.

    Evan Beard is now building on what he learned with the Masterworks company with the company’s new venture, Level & Co., in the Upper East Side of New York. 

    The company aims to function somewhat like an “art market merchant bank,” according to the team. It’s named after the French financier, Andre Level, known for his investment collective, which traded in Matisse and Picasso paintings in the 20th century. 

    Taking inspiration from both the success of Masterworks, and Level’s phenomenal results in the art investment world, Beard is building a new experience for art buyers as the President of Level & Co. Working alongside director Katherine Reid, he’ll be offering art collectors “discreet appointments” for curated viewings of blue-chip 20th century art pieces by creators such as Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. 

    The gallery aims to focus on post-war and contemporary works of art, valued at more than $1 million, and will be collaborating commercially with intermediaries such as art advisors, galleries, and auction houses. What’s more, Level & Co plans on leasing works from its collection to commercial exhibitions and museum shows going forward. It’s an intriguing new approach that bridges the virtual investment platform of Masterworks with the physical art gallery scene. 

    It will be exciting to see what this new venture delivers to the art landscape as we know it, and how it will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.

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