April 21, 2015

An Angel Investor Taking His Eye For Talent Into The Art Scene

Benedict Rodenstock, Munich

Spotting potential for greatness is his business. An expert in the development of start-up companies, Benedict Rodenstock is an angel investor and has invested in numerous firms such as Mister Spex, Body Change, Dreamlines and Fashionette. He is the founder and CEO of Astutia Ventures, a Munich-based investment boutique specialised in direct investments in Internet companies. He has taken his eye for talent into the art domain having a soft spot for contemporary art and collecting; and is an active member in the art scene. He is the President of “Kunstclub13”, a charity organisation based in Munich, dedicated to promote the work of young contemporary artists; and he is the co-founder and CEO of Munich Media Art Fair “Unpainted” which had its first edition in January 2014.

Benedict Rodenstock shares with Larry’s List how he started collecting and which internet artist we should keep an eye out for.

Location: Munich, Germany
Started collecting in year: 2005
Focus of collection: Emerging artists

Benedict Rodenstock. Courtesy of Benedict Rodenstock.

The Collection

When did you start your art collection?
I acquired my first art work in 2005. Before that, I spent several years looking at a lot of art and reading much about it.

What made you want to start collecting contemporary art?
I grew up in a family where the house was full of contemporary art. So for me it was quite natural dealing with the matter.

Considering your parents were also involved in art, did this influence you in any particular way? If so, how?
My mother started collecting art as a student and today she is internationally renowned as a collector. Through her, I got involved early on by attending numerous exhibitions and meeting many art people.

What is the main motivation behind your collecting?
My main motivation is simply the pleasure of living with art and the intellectual stimulus that comes with it. Of course, there is also an investment aspect.

What is your focus regarding the artists in your collection? Are you more interested in emerging or renowned artists?
My focus is on emerging artists, or art of the 21st century.

What was the first artwork you purchased?
It was a painting by German artist Wolfgang Kessler, which I bought from Carol Johnson.

What artworks have you acquired recently?
Among the latest additions to my collection, there are two works by the American sculptor Melissa Ichiuji – she could become the next Louise Bourgeois – and a piece by Rafaël Rozendaal, an Internet artist.

How many artworks do you own?
Approximately 60 works.

Where do you display your collection?
Part of it in our Munich apartment, another part in my office.

Is there any kind of artwork that can make you write a cheque without hesitation? 
Not really. I think it always takes a fair measure of studying and thinking.

Courtesy of Benedict Rodenstock


Courtesy of Benedict Rodenstock


Courtesy of Benedict Rodenstock


Courtesy of Benedict Rodenstock

What is your most treasured artwork? 
This is a hard one. I treasure them all!

What is your biggest regret regarding collecting?
No real regrets. Of course, as a collector, you have a certain learning curve.

How important is it for you to meet the artists who created the artwork?
It is not crucial. The work should speak for itself. Though I happen to meet a lot of the artists I collect.

Do you rely on art advisors? If not, how do you make your decisions concerning purchases?
I mostly make my buying decisions with my wife who is also an art lover. I loosely collaborate with one adviser,  but I prefer not to undergo buying pressure.

Is there an art collection you admire?
I like the Fattoria Celle near Prato in Tuscany. Moreover, I admire the Saatchi Collection.

What is your advice to people who love art and long to own a work but cannot make the leap to collect?
Art is not necessarily about possessing it. Dealing with it intellectually in museums and galleries is just as enjoyable.

Do you have a rule of thumb on when to start collecting an artist depending on the stage of his career?
For me, the sweet spot is when the talent and career are discernible, yet prices have not taken off yet. This is getting more difficult in a soaring market.

Can you name any emerging artists, who should be on our radar?
Melissa Ichiuji, Martin SpenglerPavel Sinev.

What are you especially excited about in regard to art in the next 12 months?
I wonder about the impact of the digital economy and technologies, and especially what will happen to prices once interest rates start rising again.