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Remember the Titians

Bruce Love is editor-in-chief (wealth) of Campden Publishing.

When the Duke of Sutherland recently announced he would sell the two Titians out of his famous Bridgewater Collection, art investors and collectors immediately started salivating. Combined, the two works of the old master could fetch upwards of €365 million on the open market. As a pair, Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon represent two of the finest works of possibly the most influential painter in history. They would most certainly be the pride of any collection – private or public.

But private collectors may not get a chance to claim these historic paintings. Since 1945, the National Gallery of Scotland has shown the Titians to the public and although the Duke is selling them, he is keen to keep the famous works available to the British public. He has offered them to the nation at a discounted price of €120 million for the pair in a bid to keep them on British soil as it's likely that if sold on the open market they would leave the country. As a result, the National Gallery, London, and the National Gallery of Scotland are joining forces in a bid to preserve the collection and are looking for donations from government and philanthropists

The move comes after what the Duke calls a "prudent review" of the family's assets. And it is by no means an insubstantial move for the Duke, whose worth is valued by the Times Rich List at €280 million. The bulk of the family's assets is reported to be tied up in art (around 68 master works) and real estate (about 12,000 acres in East Anglia and Scotland).

That he is willing to part with the Titians for €245 million less than their open market value speaks volumes for the Duke's philanthropic spirit but, tax issues aside, the very fact that he is willing to sell them may say more about the family's need to diversify their assets.

Many families are finding themselves in a position where their wealth is tied up in only one or two asset classes, whether it be real estate, art, or even the family business itself. But this type of over exposure to only one or two types of investments leaves a family more susceptible to market forces and economic downturns. At any level of wealth, the importance of a balanced portfolio of investments can never be overemphasised. Exposure to a wide variety of different types of investments minimises risk to the family and allows you to tap into potential gains from across the market and around the globe. This seems simple enough advice, but you would be surprised how many people do not take a balanced approach to their family's investments.

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