The Level & Co. gallery, a subsidiary of fractional art investment platform Masterworks, has opened the first-ever exhibition where all of the art is co-owned by members of the public. Recently opened in New York’s Upper East Side, the Level & Co. gallery is the brainchild of Evan Beard, who also serves as an EVP of Masterworks and is a veteran of the art finance space.
Featuring paintings by Shara Hughes, Nicolas Party, Dana Schutz, Matthew Wong and Cecily Brown, the “Into Another World” exhibition opened to the public for a single night on September 7, and it will remain open on an appointment-only basis through October 27.
This exhibition pushes the boundaries of art accessibility and democratization, as the next stage of Masterworks’ foray into non-virtual spaces. While Masterworks has in the past lent paintings by Matthew Wong, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring to museums, “This is the first gallery exhibition where every work is fractionalized and essentially a public legal entity where there’s external investment,” Beard told USA Art News.
With Masterworks, he continued, “We don’t represent artists, so we’re like a node in the art market where just works of art and capital is just churning through, and our objective is to try and expand the pool… So this is the first gallery whose capital structure is really art owned by people from outside the art world, selling that art back into the art world.”
Both the new gallery model and its genre-defying collection are representative of how Masterworks works as a whole. To maintain growth as a fintech platform that allows anyone to make a fractional investment in a physical painting, Masterworks’ team of data experts selects artworks that are most likely to appreciate in value, ideally generating significant returns for everyday investors when the paintings are resold up to ten years later.
Now, a piece that is partially owned by potentially thousands of retail investors can be viewed in the real world by not only potential collectors, but also those fractional investors themselves. “It gives our broader stakeholder base a way, over the next couple of months while the exhibition is up, to come engage with paintings that they may own or they may be interested in,” said Beard.
The price tag for a single piece of collector art can range into millions of dollars, making it cost-prohibitive for most buyers to even consider, until Masterworks applied the fractionalized investment model to blue-chip paintings when it was founded nearly five years ago.
By allowing retail investors to physically view their investments in the gallery, Level & Co. is making the art world not only more accessible but also influencing a fundamental shift in how art is bought, sold, and experienced by a broader audience. This democratization of the art market could potentially reshape collector behavior, ignite new trends, and redefine the traditional dynamics of the art investment landscape.
“The exhibit also brings collectors, art advisors and intermediaries we work with – like auction specialists – into the gallery. So it’s a node for engagement within the art market,” Beard explained. “It creates an avenue for serious collectors to come in who may be looking for the artists in the exhibition, allowing them to have a space to meet us and have conversations.”