Masterworks’ Evan Beard Opens Level & Co. Offshoot On Upper East Side


Evan Beard has made a name for himself in the groundbreaking space of art finance, particularly with art as an asset class. Beginning more than a decade ago at Deloitte, he built art financing departments there and at Bank of America before his pivot as EVP at Masterworks, the exploratory (if controversial) new art investment platform, which offers fractional stakes for non-art experts in masterpiece, high-value paintings.

Opacity was the biggest complaint against Masterworks, arguably the highest-grossing partial share company in art market history. Founded in 2017, Masterworks had raised $110 million in capital funding by 2021 and spent $475 million by May. After all, art was outperforming the S&P 500. Anyone, art lover or not, could benefit from these high returns. But would you ever actually see the art?

Now, Beard says yes. In a new venture opened at the stunning Upper East Side townhouse 30 East 74th Street, Level & Co. promises to “function like an art market merchant bank,” named for the French financier Andre Level. His art investment company, translated to ‘The Skin of the Bear,’ (La Peau de l’Ours) traded in Picasso and Matisse paintings at the turn of the 20th century.

Although Level was the tastemaker, he worked with a network of investors as early as 1895. Through their pooled assets, Level was able to over 100 paintings successfully, sold at auction in 1914 at significant returns.

Beard is President at Level & Co., alongside Director Katherine Reid, a former Vice President of Private Sales at Sotheby’s. They promise “discreet appointments” for “exclusively curated viewings” of a staggering collection of blue-chip 20th century artists such as Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Joan Mitchell, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol, as well as current market makers like Alex Katz, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Prince and Christopher Wool.

Although Level & Co. follows other blue-chip galleries to Madison Avenue such as Gagosian, Nahmad, and Dominique Levy, the tie to Masterworks underscores “data-driven analytics” and a more transparent sense of “collective ownership” and ultimately partial share investing.

Of course, the website does not show any specific works just yet, suggesting that the discretion of investing may even extend to the works on hand. Similarly to the Masterworks model, in order to truly understand what is available, perhaps one has to reveal their own spending cards to stake their claim.

Given the hurdles that lesser strategists have tried and failed to overcome in terms of collectivism in art acquisition, this gallery as the potential to radicalize the market for shared ownership with a trickle-down effect…that is, if it succeeds.

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