IEPlus: Russian manager to close world’s largest photography fund

The largest fund in the world investing in photography is about to be closed, according to reports from the Russian press.

The fund, Sobranie.Photoeffect, was listed on the Moscow Stock Exchange by Russian asset manager Agana last March.

The fund invests solely in photography. It was formed on the basis of a collection of over 700,000 prints from artists around the world, with a combined value of nearly $500m.

The launch created a lot of noise, but after an initial peak in net asset value at the end of last year, the volume of assets in the fund has been dropping steadily.

Local press reports quote sources from the management company saying it was “no longer economically viable” to continue managing the fund under current conditions.

Agana has much bigger problems to deal with, so it is unsurprising that managing a struggling art fund is not its top priority. According to local news, the firm has seen an 85% decline in the pension assets under its management in the third quarter.

Originally, the photography fund was formed with a 15 year investment horizon and the company was planning to use it to promote photography in Russia in foreign markets.

The annual turnover of the photography market is only around $100m-$150m, so if the fund were to sell off all its assets at once it could cause a collapse of the market segment, experts fear.

The fund manager declined to comment on its planned actions following the fund’s closure.

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