Life & CultureThe Princes of Liechtenstein: a Passion for Art – and Finance

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What do collecting art and banking have in common? More than you might think.

They bought their first Rubens in 1643. And they’ve been collecting masterpieces ever since. What other proof do you need of a family’s long-standing passion for art?

The Princes of Liechtenstein reign over the Principality of Liechtenstein, a semi-constitutional monarchy and microstate situated in the Alps. The family have been art lovers and collectors for more than 400 years, and over the centuries, they have built one of world’s most important private art collections: the Princely Collections.

The Collections, whose roots lie in the Baroque ideal of patronage, contain major works of European art from the fourteenth through to the nineteenth century, ranging from the Early Renaissance in Italy to the Baroque period, from Viennese Biedermeier to the historicism of the Makart era. The House of Liechtenstein cultivated this ideal, and, through its active acquisition policy, continues to add to its collections to this day.

Liechtenstein City Palace in Vienna
Paintings of the Princely Collections seen in the Liechtenstein City Palace in Vienna

Reigning Prince H.S.H. Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein has acquired over 700 pieces for the Collections. He explains: “For me, it was about strengthening and expanding our existing collection. By this I mean increasing the quality, not the quantity.” This entails more than just thorough research: “In recent years, I have sold certain pieces that we felt were not ideal for the Collections.” The Prince has set up a committee of specialists and before buying a piece of art, they always discuss whether it is a good fit.

One of the works selected with the committee is the Badminton Cabinet. Bought at auction for 27 million euro, it is said to be “the world’s most expensive piece of furniture”. H.S.H. Hans-Adam II bought it to enhance the existing pietra dura treasures in the Collections.

Diversified through the centuries

The Collections are an important part of the family’s business portfolio, which includes vineyards, forestry companies, rice producers and LGT, a leading international private banking and asset management group. If you think that banking and collecting have little in common: appearances can be deceiving.

In the financial sector, quality and tradition are now more sought-after than ever, which is one of the reasons the Princely Family and their Collections are LGT’s best brand ambassadors. They embody the traditional values the bank cherishes: trust, respect, integrity and constancy.

In today’s fast-paced and crisis-ridden world, it has become especially important to think in terms of generations – both when collecting and investing. And in both cases, when making weighty decisions – to buy or not to buy – you need trusted, reliable partners with proven expertise. The centuries of success enjoyed by the Princely Family are testimony to the benefits of their philosophy.

Since 2005, LGT has consistently used works of art from the Princely Collections as part of its visual communications: instead of clear, modern lines and cool colours, as most banks use in their brand presence, LGT stands out with its soft lines and colourful depictions of flowers, floating goddesses with wind-tossed hair and princes wearing flowing capes.

Rejuvenating the old masters

LGT not only brings together its owner family’s Collections and values, it also melds tradition and innovation: the paintings of the old masters can often be difficult to fully comprehend at first sight. LGT realised this during the various, worldwide exhibitions of the Princely Collections that it hosts. The artworks’ symbols might no longer be familiar to people, their stories forgotten, their appeal faded. So how can you give the viewer a key to help them discover more of the beauty of these pieces?

In collaboration with researchers from ETH Zurich, an internationally leading research university, and the Princely Collections, LGT has created an app to make the Princely Collections more accessible – especially to a wider and younger audience – all with the help of Augmented Reality.

LGT MAG/NET app
The MAG/NET app – making the Princely Collections more accessible

When the lines between the screen and the world behind it become blurred, we find ourselves in what is known as Augmented Reality – the world around us is enhanced with the help of a digital device. The new MAG/NET app (available from the Apple store here and Google Play here) uses this technology to convey art in a new way that includes exciting content and the discovery of the beauty of small details, otherwise easily overseen. The result is an innovative app that offers a fresh look behind the art in the Princely Collections.

LGT is a leading international private banking and asset management group that has been fully controlled by the Princely House of Liechtenstein for over 80 years. The company employs over 3600 people who work out of more than 20 locations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. LGT offers tailored investment advice and strategic wealth planning for wealthy private individuals, companies, private foundations and institutional clients. As the family office of the Princely House of Liechtenstein, the bank has longstanding experience in structuring and managing sizeable assets.

 

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