Art conservator-turned-entrepreneur rates the physical longevity of artworks.
Occupation: Art conservator, CEO and co-founder of Art Preservation Index/APIx
Family status: Single
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Lives in: Coconut Grove
Emily MacDonald-Korth wants to take the guesswork out of buying art. She won’t tell you which artists will stand the test of time, but she can help assess whether their artwork will last.
To that end, MacDonald-Korth created the Art Preservation Index/APIx rating system. The patent-pending system is the first of its kind to standardize the measurement of risk involved with the purchase of high-end fine art, of the sort often found at Art Basel.
MacDonald-Korth knows the business from the inside-out. A printmaker who studied at Pratt Institute of Art and Design and later obtained a master’s degree in fine art conservation from the University of Delaware, MacDonald-Korth knows how to make art and how to conserve it so that the materials used will be durable. Condition has a direct bearing on value, she says.
Her role is analagous to that of a bond rater, she says.
“Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rate bonds on the likelihood the investor will pay back the bond,” she says. “This is the same concept, but with art.” She looks at the physical stability of the materials used to make the art, examining the current condition and how quickly those materials will deteriorate over time, thus eroding the work’s value.
She came up with the idea after a discussion with her father, who has a background in finance and is also the company’s co-founder. They launched Art Preservation Index this summer. One day, they hope, it will become the industry standard for art sales — much like getting a house inspection prior to purchase.
From MacDonald-Korth: “What I do does not reflect the changes of value in the market, not for Warhol or Rothko or any of the big boys. Those artists will still stay in favor. But if the buyer were to buy a piece that has such significant degradation that it cannot be shown any more — they may instead buy a different Rothko. It’s about adding another layer of transparency in an otherwise-opaque area of the art market.”
About MacDonald-Korth: “She is unbelievably smart and savvy, a real creative thinker. I am not surprised she came up with something that is this different as a way of melding her expertise as a professional art conservator with her family’s background in commodities.” — Rosa Lowinger, sculpture conservator in Miami and Los Angeles