walls are the new open floor plans

Luxury real estate in Manhattan is starting to take a turn away from the modern loft that was so prevalent in the early 2000s. As it turns out, the fewer walls there are, the less space there is for art, and that just won't do for high-end art collectors.

Mark Ellwood, a writer for Bloomberg Business, describes how some real estate clients are turning to art consultants for second opinions before buying a property. They measure ceiling height, wall space, and natural lighting to ensure those large masterpieces have a home of their own. The art consultants also measure humidity levels and the size of freight elevators.

This emphasis on prepackaging buildings as art friendly, whether by adding more walls or expanding the elevator, is a concrete manifestation of the close relationship between art collecting and real estate. Of course, there’s an element of smart marketing, too: Art world affiliation offers built-in cachet, while such thoughtful amenities as a simple picture rail can act as sweeteners to help justify skyrocketing prices in New York—10 years ago, Roy Kim, creative director at Douglas Elliman, says, the “entry point for luxury in 2006 was $1,200 per sq. ft. and has now jumped to $3,000.”

Perhaps the most compelling factor behind this trend, though, is that many major developers are also powerful art collectors themselves. Aby Rosen might be the best known, but Steve Witkoff, Edward Minkskoff, and even Ian Schrager are art world aficionados too.

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