Two Stradivarius violins, a viola and a cello that belonged to the composer Niccolo Paganini have helped the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, boost its endowment and investment fund to $20.3 million from a mere $5.8 million.
The art gallery netted $14.5 million from the sale of the Stradivarius quartet, and hired consultant Alexander Sussman of The Segal Co., New York, to help it examine its asset allocation.
"Normally we don't sell things, but we're an art museum, and musical instruments have to be played," said John Silton, vice president of finance and administration.
The art gallery, which has 75% of its money in equity and the balance in bonds, is aiming to decrease its equity portion to 60%, while boosting its fixed-income allocation to 40%, he said.
The endowment has terminated Stein Roe & Farnham Inc., Chicago, because of performance, and added Oppenheimer Capital, New York, and Marshfield Associates, Washington, effective Oct. 1, to its existing managers, Riggs Investment Management Corp., Washington, and Loomis, Sayles & Co. Inc., Boston.
Riggs is managing the lion's share of the endowment's money, $15.4 million, in short-term and long-term government securities, while Loomis, Sayles has $3.2 million in equities. Stein Roe had $1.7 million in equities.
The gallery hopes to allocate $5 million in equities each to Riggs Investment Management; Loomis, Sayles; and Oppenheimer by the end of the year; Marshfield will likely receive $1 million in equities. The remainder will be managed by Riggs in bonds.
The art gallery hopes to end up with $25 million in assets by year end, through the sale of additional musical instruments and gifts.