Photo by Jeremy Bales

Evan Beard


Art collecting has become a sophisticated alternative investment in recent years, and financial institutions are jostling to win the business of this new breed of collector. Perhaps no one has done so better than U.S. Trust, the wealth management arm of Bank of America, which has cultivated a network of individual collectors and cultural institutions via a suite of art services: structured credit, specialized planning advice, endowment management and nonprofit art advisory services.

Evan Beard, a former U.S. art and finance leader for Deloitte who joined U.S. Trust last March, heads the effort. He’s already having a major impact: U.S. Trust now calls itself the largest art lender in the world, and its art loan book is in the billions of dollars. “It used to be a niche product,” says Beard. “But there’s a new generation that’s far more attuned to the planning and tax implications of owning and transacting in art.”


Beard followed an unusual route to his position at the bank. He is a U.S. Naval Academy grad who spent five years as an intel officer negotiating contracts between Middle East allies and the U.S. But after earning a masters from the great books program at St. John College’s in Annapolis, Md.—which he completed while in the military—he went to Oxford to study behavioral economics and increasingly focused on the art market, ultimately earning an MBA. “It isn’t that weird a path,” he says, calling art “an international language.” He adds, “Open societies, democracies—capitalism—need art and freedom of expression to thrive.”