CURBED LA: REALTORS HANGING PRICELESS ARTWORK IN LA'S PRICIEST HOMES

Real estate agents are hoping works by Picasso and Warhol will entice big buyers

By: Elijah Chiland

In the highly competitive upscale housing market of Los Angeles, realtors often have to pull out all the stops to appeal to clientele that can be hard to impress. And now, that effort includes displaying original works of art by some of the most treasured and respected artists in the world. As the LA Times reports, more and more LA home stagers are working with art dealers to turn houses on the market into makeshift galleries--so that prospective buyers can admire a Picasso while debating whether the master suite offers enough closet space.

It's an arrangement that has potential benefits for both real estate agents and art sellers. Works of art add to the allure of a home, while open houses bring them into the view of a well heeled set of potential buyers. In fact, Janus Cercone, principal at Jaman Properties, tells the Times that home shoppers have sometimes passed on a house, but walked away with the art. Night at the Museum producer Shawn Levy recently bought several pieces by Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Rauschenberg that were on display at one of her open houses.

Because it's not uncommon for art to find a buyer in these situations, galleries often lend pieces to home stagers free of charge. Still, that doesn't mean the art comes cheap. Cercone says the cost of transporting pieces, insuring them, and hiring security guards to protect the works adds up to thousands of dollars. Is it worth it? Paul Lester, principal partner at the Agency, seems to think so. He tells the Times that a valuable work of art "creates a secondary level of depth and gives more credibility to the house itself because there's a richness to it, a fullness you don't get from a lot of the staging art you see." Hey, when you're selling houses for tens of millions of dollars, you probably need every "secondary level of depth" you can get.