Days after the two-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ infamous collapse, its corporate art is going up for sale: two separate auctions, in London and New York, will see pieces from the company’s multi-million-dollar collection go under the hammer. Proceeds will help pay off the bank’s creditors, who are still owed more than US$600 billion.
Lehman isn’t unique in amassing a collection of museum-worthy pieces; wealthy companies tend to collect art as a form of philanthropy or investment. (It doesn’t hurt when trying to impress a client, either.) But just as companies buy art in good times, they might sell it in bad. Earlier this year, bankrupt Polaroid held a court-ordered auction of its corporate art, including works by Ansel Adams and Chuck Close, to pay creditors.
Alongside pieces by Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and Cindy Sherman that Lehman will be selling off, one lot has raised some eyebrows—a plaque bearing the company name that once hung outside its office.