Prop Art: inside The Park Crescent
PUBLISHED: 13:39 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:24 06 October 2016
What happens when you combine £100 million of art with £100 million of super prime property?
The moment I realised I had finally become an adult was not when I moved into my first flat in north London but when I found myself daydreaming about living in the houses I passed on my walk to work.
As a child my parents loved to take ‘the scenic route’ on car journeys, dipping through rural villages far from the motorway as I moaned my boredom in the back.
But when I found myself leaving my flat on Gloucester Place five minutes early so I could take the scenic route via Portland Place and daydream about living behind the wedding cake facades of Park Crescent I began to understand. So to be invited back to my first dream home for a private viewing was thrilling.
I’m easy prey, however. Trying to get someone who could afford one of the multi million pound luxury apartment to imagine living there so that they’ll part with serious sums of money is the secret sauce that estate agents and developers would love to bottle.
It’s all well and good proffering off plan apartments in random parts of the city to cash buyers looking to splash and stash in a game of property portfolio bingo, but getting the considered buyer to sign on the dotted line can be more of a challenge.
Simply creating a story and a show flat to sell a luxurious lifestyle to a client is old hat. Instead London’s property developers have turned to the art world.
The timing is impeccable, with Frieze London opening this week and the art-collecting caravanserai rolling into town there’s sure to be plenty of interested parties.
Barratt Homes are working the art connection with their development in Kidderpore Green, sponsoring the Hampstead Summer Festival’s Art Fair, making much of the onsite Hampstead School of Art and holding an exclusive art exhibition on October 6 – the day Frieze London opens.
Over in Nine Elms Ecoworld Ballymore and Frieze have teamed up for the launch of The Mews at Embassy Gardens and are offering every buyer £20,000 towards a contemporary artwork to hang in their new home when they’re completed in 2019.
Three officially makes a trend, and Amazon Property have doubled down and produced the most daring property and art collaboration yet.
This week The Park Crescent is going head to head with Frieze, not just with their location (literally on the doorstep of Regent’s Park), but with the staggering collection of art they’ve brought together and are displaying on the walls of six of the 20 new apartments.
Together with House of the Nobleman and in association with Alon Zakaim Fine Art and Lawrence Van Hagen they’ve consigned 200 pieces of Post-war and Contemporary art from around the world, collectively valued at £100 million and displayed in £100 million worth of super prime property.
The insurance alone for this private exhibition is £30 million.
The apartments themselves are, naturally, stunning. Former ambassadorial residences behind an iconic Nash frontage were never going to be half hearted affairs. Super-tall sash windows allow for views over the private gardens and the rooms are full of natural light.
“One of the key unique and sought after features of The Park Crescent are the high ceilings and large principal rooms which lend themselves to providing a stunning canvas for displaying important works of art,” says Chris Lanitis, director of Amazon Property.
As I’d already given a fair amount of air time to fantasies of living behind one of the glossy black doors, I’m biased. But the presence of the art turbocharged my longing to move in.
The connection between art and property is long and illustrious. Before public galleries opened in the latter half of the 18th century, works of art could only be admired by the wealthy elite who stuffed their mansions to the gunnels with masterpieces.
Art is often made for the domestic space, something it’s all too easy to forgot when your main encounter with impressive canvases, light installations or video work takes place at the weekend in one of London’s many galleries.
It turns out there’s a world of difference between gazing at a painting in a crowded gallery and catching sight of a masterpiece hanging in a master bedroom.
Whilst I’m passionately for public galleries and their egalitarian approach to art, standing in the master bedroom of the grand The Nash apartment gazing at Marc Chagall’s Les fiancés au cirque (flown in from Singapore with nine other of the artist’s works) was a miniature revelation.
Victoria Golembiovskaya’s curation in the show apartments is subtle, allowing the art to blend seamlessly with the property in places or come to the fore in others. The grand reception room of The Nash, once the residence of the Brazilian Ambassador, is a positive orgy of work by Alexander Calder, with a total of 30 of his pieces arranged around the apartment.
23 year old curator Lawrence Van Hagen has taken over two of the apartments for his show What’s Up 2.0. His His irreverent, tongue-in-cheek approach has the art displayed installation style, with pieces propped in unexpected places, hung on the ceiling and propped on a plinth of toilet paper in the bathroom. It’s a fun mutual interaction between interior and art that sets both off to great effect.
It’s this personal touch that makes the addition of art so clever from a property-psychology point of view. You can admire sash windows and high spec finishes until the cows come home but it’s idly pondering a Salvador Dali doodle in a (well appointed) study or stumbling upon a Warhol or two in the mid-19th century American ambassador’s home that really brings out one’s covetous side. Once you’ve seen the art in situ it would be hard not to want to buy the whole package or else feel thwarted by the yawning blank walls.
The exhibition – of both the art and the apartments – runs from October 6 to 23 by invitation or private appointment with a VIP launch party being held in the private gardens of the Crescent on the Thursday, so no doubt attendees of the Frieze opening night will be flitting over to toast the collection.
The marriage of art and property feels in a way like the logical conclusion. Art, like property is a relatively safe and value-accruing asset in what feels like an increasingly unstable world. But they also both exert an emotional pull – shelter and beauty being pretty fundamental to the whole human experience.
It’s also a marriage of convenience. With Brexit jitters, a cooling prime market and a skyline saturated with skyscraper developments developers have to go that extra mile to compete for custom.
Regent’s Park currently reigns supreme – a recent report from Kay & Co identified sales prices per sq ft as having increased by 123 per cent in the past decade, compared to 105 per cent across the rest of prime central London. But the art can only add to the appeal – and the sales.
Paintings piqued your interest? See more of the flats here: