Art Opportunities and Basquiat’s Legacy with Temi Butler

October 12, 20223 min read
Art Opportunities and Basquiat’s Legacy with Temi Butler
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Yieldstreet’s fourth art equity fund includes a magnificent painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most influential artists of all time.  On this episode of The Yield, Yieldstreet’s Art Platform leader Rebecca Fine welcomes Temilayo Butler, Business Development Associate at HarbourView Equities Partners for a discussion about the Basquiat market, black artists more broadly, and democratizing access to art investments. 

Key Takeaways:

[1:16] Tami’s career trajectory and the influence of her mother’s art. 

[5:00] The inspiration behind Temi’s research and thesis. 

[6:27] Disparities in the art market regarding black artists. 

[11:51] Art as an alternative investment. 

[13:20 Basquiat’s approach to the art market. 

[18:02] Reflections on the King Pleasure exhibit. 

[19:58] Democratizing access to art investments.

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After watching her own artist mother struggle and succeed as a career artist, Temi recognized that she needed more creativity in her own banking career focused life. She began to ask questions about artists- what does it take to get noticed?  Why do so many artists go unrecognized? And ultimately, what does it take for an artist to be successful? Who provides value and who acts as the gatekeepers for the art work?  Ultimately these questions became the basis of Temi’s thesis about how to effectively accelerate black artists.  Art is an asset, and it’s something that should be capitalized and invested in, but how can the artist be helped along the way as well? 

Temi took special interest in the career of Jean Michel Basquiat, and found that there are disparities in the art market regarding what people think about black artists. One study found that between 2008 and 2018, only 2.3% of museum acquisitions were by black artists. Of the $180 billion art market, black art made up $2.2 billion, or less than 2 percent and of that number, 80% of the art was attributed to Basquiat.  Clearly, the black art market is very top heavy, and the few artists who are acquired by museums and art galleries tend to only be the superstars of the art market. 

Temi’s research reveals some surprises in the art market.  While the chips are somewhat more stacked against black artists, there is a fundamental problem in the art market that dates clear back to the Dark Ages. Reflecting on Basquiat’s success, Temi highlights the ways that he aligned himself with the art market and uplifted and enabled him to be in the blue chip conversation.  Take for example his New Art, New Money feature in the New York Times magazine, where he’s sitting on the cover wearing an Armani suit, but is barefoot and splattered in paint. Basquiat had a way of presenting views in direct opposition to each other, a conflict that gave people interest and made people excited and curious and contributed to his success, a move that Temi calls really quite ingenious. 

As a 26-year old professional, the question that Temi is asked the most often is, “How can I begin collecting art?’  Too many people falsely believe that it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to access art, and Yieldstreet is on a mission to change that.  If more people are going to come into the art market, the conversation around accessibility has to change.