Art Is Money (With a Little Help from Borro)

You don’t need us to tell you about the current state of the economy. With all the turmoil the financial system has been embroiled in over the past few years, enterprising entrepreneurs have found that banks aren’t nearly as accommodating as they used to be at issuing loans. But when it comes to securing a few thousand dollars for a business venture, collectors may find that their passion for fine art—not their local bank—can get them the capital they need.
The reason? That would be borro (www.borro.com). The U.K.-based company, which recently expanded its operations to New York City, provides short-term loans against high-value luxury assets such as watches, jewelry, cars and fine art, giving its customers an efficient, easy and (most importantly) reliable way to get some quick cash.
“Efficient” and “easy” come into play with the application process. Customers can submit the form online or speak via phone with a borro account manager; either way, a valuation of the luxury item in question is immediately arranged at the customer’s home or in borro’s Midtown Manhattan valuation center. After that painless process is complete, money is deposited into the customer’s account within 24 hours, to be paid back over the next six months, with no penalties for paying off a loan early.
“Reliable,” meanwhile, refers to borro’s respectful treatment of fine art, both in how it is physically taken care of and the manner in which it is appraised. “We have world-class delivery and storage options, which are free and fully insured, to ensure our customers’ valuables are treated with the utmost care from start to finish,” notes borro founder and CEO Paul Aitken.
The company utilizes the services of highly-qualified professionals—many formerly of Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Christie’s—to appraise fine art, antiques and sculptures. Factors taken into consideration in determining an item’s value besides the artist include a piece’s popularity, condition, rarity and provenance, as well as current market trends.
Customers can typically expect to receive a loan of up to 60 percent of a piece’s resale value. Recent examples of loans issued by borro include one for $75,000 against a piece by 18th-century portrait painter George Romney and an $18,000 loan secured against a Picasso. In 2011, notes Aitken, “We issued our first loan [of] over $1 million against a fine art collection.”
Though small business owners and retailers make up a large portion of borro’s clients, there is no one-size-fits-all usage for the financing. One customer “borrowed to invest in a new piece of business software that paid for itself… over three to four months,” explains Aitken. “Another group of customers uses us to finance new business ideas.”
While the days of walking out of a traditional bank with a loan check in your pocket are as good as gone, you might find that the money you need is already hanging on your wall. ABN

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