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The Art of Bank Failures

alan_greenspan_pancake.jpgDeutsche Bank wins the prize for the most well-capitalized art collection, racking up 53,000 works in one of the largest corporate art collections in the world – as of 2004, worth an estimated $124 million (USD). Does that fall under PP&E? How does one depreciate a Cezanne hanging in a corporate office anyway? Oh wait, you don’t.
In honor of the year anniversary of Lehman’s fall, we find it worth noting here that Lehman’s Dick Fuld and his wife found that when you’re in desperate need of a capital infusion and facing epic failure, pawning off your precious fine art pieces works in a pinch.
More, after the jump

Guardian UK:

The bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers wants to sell at least $8m (£5.2m) worth of the art collection that once decorated its offices. The news comes as $20m of postwar art, put up for sale by the former Lehman boss Richard Fuld and his wife Kathy, goes on the block tonight at Christie’s in New York.

That’s got to hurt.
But Dick isn’t alone. If only banks would have considered these precious assets while spiraling down the toilet.
Portfolio has a do-not-miss on the art collections left behind by bank failures:

From coast to coast, millions of dollars of corporate art that once hung in the offices of well-known banks has itself become entangled in the fallout from the financial crisis. The fate of that artwork is still being sorted out, along with the assets involved in many of the unprecedented bank failures and resulting mergers that took place last year. Some of the surviving financial institutions appear to be holding onto the valuable artwork for their own collections, despite the chance to cushion their coffers with its sale. Others are selling the art or donating it to local museums and nonprofits.

Well, wait a minute, will this art have the same fate as the $4 billion in WaMu deposits the failed thrift is fighting to get back from JP Morgan? Just sayin.
This is nothing new. In 1991, the FDIC netted a cool $250,000 for the art collection of failed Boston Trade Bank. Though that was a pathetic catch in comparison to the $800,000 the collection of 219 pieces was estimated to be worth but hey, every little bit helps.
Wonder why no one’s thought to tap AIG for some precious paintings? Surely General Motors has a few pricey pieces lying around corporate offices, let’s use that to recoup that $23 billion American taxpayers may never see again!