The Art Angle Podcast: How the Artist Pension Trust Became a Gigantic Fiasco

This week, reporter Catherine Wagley delves into the muddied waters of the Artist Pension Trust.

Robert Longo's Untitled (White Riot) (1982). Courtesy of the Broad.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.


Everyone knows the dirty little secret of the dog-eat-dog art market, which is that while an artist makes the artwork, the vast majority of its value is created—and captured—by others, from the 50 percent that goes to the dealer, to the multiples made by the collectors who flip works when artists get hot.

But what if there was a way for artists to protect themselves from this kind of exploitation by banding together and pooling their art together into a fund to provide a safety net against the vicissitudes of the market, where all artists—hot and not alike—benefit from the rising values of rising stars?

Well, something like that does exist, and it’s called the Artist Pension Trust, which since 2004 has enlisted hundreds of artists behind this common cause.

The only catch? It is apparently too good to be true—at least if you go by the maelstrom of threats of lawsuits, recriminations, and accusations that have sprang up around the trust in recent years.

So, what went wrong with the utopian project of the Artist Pension Trust? And who is behind it, anyway?

To find out, Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin spoke to reporter Catherine Wagley about her recent investigation into the one art fund everyone was rooting for. Enjoy the conversation, and for the full story, check out Catherine’s riveting twopart series on Artnet.


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