The Art of Speculation

Osian Art Fund fetched poor returns for investors and bad publicity for Osian and drove a hard lesson about speculation and ‘wealth management services’

We have always been sceptical about fancy investment ideas, especially involving products that are illiquid, sold after a prolonged rally or with a lot of hype. They must be avoided at all costs. Art investment in 2006-07 fitted the bill....

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  • Investor Interest   Exclusive
    Osian Art Fund to be redeemed

    Even after the end of the deadline for redemption, investors of the Osian Art Fund continue to await full redemption. Unit-holders have received another note from Osian officials stating that the remaining amount would be paid to them in two instalments.

    Investors in the art fund had recently received a part-payment of the redemption amount. While investors claimed that they had received only 75% of the total amount, company officials stated that the payment amounted to 90% of the capital invested in the Fund.
    Today, a day later than the deadline for redemption (as per Osian officials), notes were sent across to unit-holders stating that the payment would be made in two instalments. The note said that all unit-holders would have received 85% of their investment (in addition to the earlier 5% dividend). This payment will be made in eight to 10 days, said the note.
     The remaining capital and income will be distributed in 10 to 12 days thereafter, according to the company.
    Neville Tuli, chief advisor, Osian Art fund, in one of his earlier mails to Moneylife had stated, “As per redemption guidelines, this process has up to 10 December 2009 to complete its obligations. However, we expect to complete all these formalities much quicker.”
    Osian's-Connoisseurs of Art Private Ltd, a leading archive and auction house, had announced the art fund in July 2006. The art fund was a close-ended scheme for a period of thirty-six months. Investors in the Fund have been disappointed earlier with low returns, with a net assert value (NAV) of Rs112 and now they have to put up with delayed and part-payments.
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    Osian Art Fund investors upset about ambiguity regarding NAV and closure date

    Company officials claim that redemption payment will be done in three to four days, while investors fear that the funds will come in only after 30 days

    The Osian Art Fund, which was to see closure on the 10th of this month, has now triggered a nasty debate between the investors and Osian company officials. While Osian’s chief advisor Neville Tuli claims the NAV has been communicated to the unit-holders, investors claim that the closing NAV was communicated only a couple of days back. There is ambiguity on the closure date as well.

    “The Fund was successfully closed on 10th November with all the inventories sold. As per the redemption guidelines sent to all unit-holders, the final audit for tax certification purposes needs to be completed, which should take four to five days, and thereafter the warrants are to be immediately couriered to the unit holders. As per (our) redemption guidelines, this process has up to 10th December 2009 to complete its obligations. However, we expect to complete all these formalities much quicker. This is no new date as it was clearly conveyed to all unit holders previously,” Neville Tull said in an email to Moneylife.

    “The NAV was announced on 11 July 2009, and was uploaded on the Web with all information required, and being the indicative NAV it had nothing to do with an audit. Further, in my regular notes to all unit-holders, the last dated on 8 October 2009, I clearly mentioned the NAV at Rs112.29 (cum-div),” he further added.
    However, investors have a completely different story. “The date of closure of the fund was 9th July and till four months they had not announced the NAV value for 9th July. The standard reply given to us was that the audit has been going on for the last four months. The NAV was communicated to me only after a conversation with Mr Tuli earlier this week. The same was updated on the website later,” said Deepak Daftari, one of the investors in the art fund.
    “As per the regular note dated 8 October 2009, received on 9 October 2009, the NAV mentioned was that ‘we have achieved an NAV of Rs112.29 (3.94% CAGR, post-tax) and Rs116.39 (5.18% pre-Tax)’. This does not say whether it is the June NAV or July NAV,” Mr Daftari added.

    “It has been communicated to me that it is going to be another 30 days from 10th November, the last day of closure and now the new date is 10th December, which in itself goes against the guidelines of the Art Fund. The concerned official who said this on behalf of Osian is Raghavendra Shanbhag and he has categorically stated that the payments will not be made now as per the instructions of Neville Tuli,” said Mr Daftari.

    The investor further told us that after his conversation with Mr Tuli, he has been told the funds would be distributed shortly, but no definite timeframe was fixed. The date for closure of the fund has already expired, it now remains to be seen when the funds are finally distributed to the investors.

    On the sale of inventories, Mr Daftari says, “We only received notifications on the monthly NAV and the sixth-monthly reports, but have been given no concrete information, on which inventories (were sold), who were the buyers and the sellers. We were never given the exact inventories of the fund, as to what they were buying, selling and at what prices.”
    - Amritha Pillay [email protected]

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