Art Basel Sponsor to Shut Down Art Advising Division

Art Basel Sponsor to Shut Down Art Advising Division
Swiss bank UBS AG will close down its unit that advises clients on art investments, Bloomberg reports.

The Basel-based unit was started in 1998 as part of the wealth-management division of the bank; it was led by Karl Schweizer and offered Swiss clients and Art Basel visitors research on art market prices, provenance verification, and advice on buying artworks.

Spokeswoman Tatiana Togni said the bank will try to find places for the department's 11 employees in other parts of the company.

UBS, the world's biggest private wealth manager, posted a 20.9 billion Swiss franc loss ($18.3 billion) in 2008, the biggest in Switzerland's history. The bank has lost $50 billion since the onset of the financial crisis, in response to which it has been forced to raise more than $32 billion in capital from investors and cut 11,000 jobs.

The move will not affect UBS's sponsorship of the Art Basel contemporary-art fair, which is promised by contract through 2011.