Cultured Magazine

Fall 2014

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190 CULTURED Liam Culman sits in front of a painting by Damien Hirst at his home, located above his wife's gallery in Chelsea. The answer to smart investing, according to Liam Culman, is hanging on the wall. Culman's initiative, Alternative Alternatives (ALT2), is a series of invite-only conferences that focus on diversifying one's wealth portfolio through overlooked avenues. "A lot of these high-net-worth individuals are set in their ways of investing, and what we do is open up their eyes and turn their hobbies and passions into profits," says the 45-year-old who is also a principal at BigelowSands LLC. While Culman earned his chops on Wall Street, he developed the idea for ALT2 on his own—though not without a "eureka!" moment roused by his wife, power art dealer Marianne Boesky, who drew his eye toward the lucrative potential of the contemporary art market. It was around the financial crash of 2008 that Culman discovered who he really was: a connector. "You find the people who are the best at what they do and are always trying to learn," he offers. A knack for bringing together a clan of individuals, Culman supplied insight for secure investments when the landscape for traditional ventures seemed blighted. But contemporary art wasn't the only alternative asset to accrue wealth, Culman learned. Wine, said a colleague. Watches, clued in a friend. Even royalties, which both a music insider and a big pharma rep tipped Culman off to. "This is serious money," he says. Solid investments they are—it's green, not funny money, as the capital gains have a proven track record and their value already exists in the economy. "What I try to do in these conferences is to expose these people and family offices to all these other investments that are sound," Culman explains. "Often, they didn't even think about it." The invite-only ALT2 conferences—so far there have been three—are attended by a select group, mostly recommended through Culman's rolodex of experts. They center around authorities in the area of specialty that Culman has identified as a commodity in which to invest. The last conference, for example, held at Phillips auction house in March, brought together leaders in the design and contemporary art worlds for a panel discussion dedicated to each field and with meet-and-greets over wine afterwards. "What I like about it is that all of these cultural hard assets drive the communication dialogue," he says. Get an invite to one of Liam Culman's conferences and you may find art and design are more than passion pursuits. BY JULIE BAUMGARDNER PORTRAIT BY JASON RODGERS WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?

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