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Marlissa Gardner, Founder/Owner, Emillions

Founder/Owner Emillions, Naples

Marlissa Gardner. Courtesy Devon Cass.
Marlissa Gardner. Courtesy Devon Cass.
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Company: Capitalizing on her love of art and a desire to connect artists with high-wealth individuals, companies and organizations, Marlissa Gardner founded Emillions, an international art procurement consulting business, in Boston nearly five years ago. She recently moved the business to Naples, where she also has a home, setting up shop on high-end Fifth Avenue South.  

But she doesn’t spend much time there. She travels the country and the world to work with individual collectors as well as hotels, Fortune 500 companies and others to collect art for personal enjoyment, decor, collections and investment.

“We started with private clients working as a consultant at their homes,” says Gardner. “Then we took on a small pool of artists to represent because customers needed to see what they're dealing with, especially as a startup.”

Industry: Emillions is in a niche market to be certain, and Gardner says clients collect art from a wide range of styles and mediums for a variety of reasons. Because each client has different needs, her compensation comes in consulting fees, commissions or a combination of the two. She has more than 60 kinds of contracts with clients.

“We get a lot of requests for installation-type work or corporate work, and I had been steering away from that, but as time goes by and I gain more experience in the masters world I’m moving toward that,” Gardner says. “Now we’re getting a lot of requests from hedge fund owners, banks and family trust offices asking us to help adorn their halls or to add to their collections.”

Recently, she traveled to San Francisco to assist a client to procure art for offices and other homes worldwide.

Threats: Sotheby’s and Christie's, Gardner says, recently published statements that there has been a dampening in the art market. While uncertain about that assessment, Gardner says art acquisition is impacted by economic and political uncertainty. The aftermath of the midterm elections, she says, could have an impact on artists and collectors.

“When the economy is strong people buy a ton of art,” Gardner says. “But they don’t buy a lot of master works, and the reason is because they see a greater rate of return in the stock market.”

On the flip side, a softer economy benefits the masters. “When the market declines, wealthy people tend to take their money out of the stock market and buy a Rembrandt," she says, "because a verified Rembrandt doesn’t lose value."


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