Wealthy, forgetful people are particularly prone to pottering around. Just ask PG Wodehouse. Chances are they have advisors aplenty, but nothing beats some good old fashioned digital curating. If they have all manner of antique pottery, rare works of oil on canvas and silverware lying around, that is. An incredible organiser and amiable companion, the Prime Collector does all the work and more when it comes to cataloguing valuables. The iOS compatible app has been created by art advisory and investment management firm Prime Art Capital. Here, creator Sandip Malik discusses the features of the swanky application.
How does the Prime Collector app help collectors beyond the function of cataloguing?
Digitising a collector's treasure assets accounts for more than 80% of the value preservation journey. Research shows that over 70% of top collectors do not even have a basic inventory list, which can have adverse long-term consequences for their collection. We developed the Prime Collector as a detailed catalogue that lists what you have, with info on where it is stored and what it is worth.
The first step towards long term preservation of treasure assets is a detailed inventory. Without it, collecting is likely to be chaotic and haphazard. Collecting is a passion, but it must be blended with discipline and housekeeping. The streamlined and efficient design and process flows of Prime Collector frees the collector from mundane housekeeping responsibilities.
As an expert in art investment, do you also take a personal interest in art?
I do. I am a second generation collector. Our family home in Kolkata has a library full of art books, so we were exposed to art history from a young age. Sadly, Indian contemporary and modern art has few takers in the global community other than a few NRIs, and they do it more out of nostalgia than for the sake of collecting. Currently, this section also seems to be shrinking. China, on the other hand, has a vibrant artist and collector community accounting for 97 per cent of the $6.5 billion art sales in 2014. In India, the local collector market is interested in jewellery, furniture and classic cars. These treasure assets have more liquidity and bragging value than art in India. My aim is integrate India with the global art market. Our biggest event, India Art Fair, in New Delhi is almost irrelevant in the global calendar. The Kochi Biennale is a welcome breath of fresh air in the highly depleted art scene in the country. We make it a point to partner with art fairs and collecting communes to develop collecting as a long term habit in India among millennials and a seasoned clientele.
What are the user-friendly features of Prime Collector?
There are three operational layers within the app. The first is an inventory management system, which digitises the entire collection of treasure assets along with added information. This could be an image of the original invoice, an authentication certificate or the condition note. This supplements the photos of collectibles uploaded to the app. At the press of a button, these records are available either on display or a PDF document, which can be emailed directly from the app.
The second layer consists of a succession planning module. Our research shows that the 3Ds wreck havoc every time they strike. So, if you have borrowed money, a creditor can secure the debt by seizing your collection. Debt is the first of the 3D's. The second is divorce. The unintended consequences of splitting collectibles during a legal process can be extremely damaging. The third D is death. The transfer of assets to legal heirs or successors is best planned in advance. We believe that succession planning as a habit is not widely prevalent and the role of Prime Collector is to facilitate either smooth succession or long term preservation of treasure assets irrespective of the 3D's.
The third layer is a service planning module which helps the collector plan for services such as insurance, storage, auction, private sale and many other essential collector services.
Additional features include dashboards that summarise the asset portfolio and news feed.
How does it regulate one's luxury inventory?
The first step is documentation. First generation collectors tend to regard treasure assets lightly. According to the research we conducted in India, over 80 per cent of the participants did not know the fair market value of their art, wine and jewellery. Enquiries about other assets such as furniture, antiquities, classic cars and fashion revealed an even higher percentage who said they had no idea what they had, where these assets were located and how much they would be worth. Once the assets are digitised using Prime Collector, a collector has access to know-how and tested practices from developed collector markets including New York, London and Tokyo.
How many users does the app have as of now?
The current user base is 300 with 100 users getting added every month. Over 50 percent of our users are based in the US, UK, Germany and Switzerland. India currently accounts for 15 per cent of our market.
How comprehensive are the database fields for each collection category?
The database for each collection category is exhaustive. The app caters to every collection category that large auction houses like Sotheby's or Christie's deal in. So whether it is fine art, wine, stamps, coins, jewellery or furniture, we have you completely covered.
Does the app provide information on auctions that are of interest to collectors?
The news feed section does cover auctions but at this point this is not an area of focus for us. Our mission at this point is to provide collectors an easy-to-use and secure platform that helps with long term preservation of their assets. You don't adapt to processes overnight. Once we establish collecting, discipline & housekeeping roles among the collector community, the plan is to deliver bespoke services via a marketplace that offers the best pricing within the app itself. For instance, if a collector needs insurance or storage for some of tier treasure assets they can get these services directly from the app.
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