Carlyle Is Seeking Sale of Art-Financing Group Athena

(Bloomberg) -- Carlyle Group LP is looking to sell Athena Art Finance Corp. just three years after helping start the business, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The boutique lender was founded in 2015 with $280 million of capital from Carlyle and the private-equity unit of Pictet, a Geneva-based wealth manager. It was the brainchild of Olivier Sarkozy, a former Carlyle managing director and half-brother of the former French president. Sarkozy, who didn’t reply to a message seeking comment, joined Athena’s board in 2016, the same year he left Carlyle.

Carlyle co-CEOs Kewsong Lee and Glenn Youngkin have sought to allocate resources to businesses deemed most promising. They’ve retreated from investing in Chinese real estate and pushed for growth in areas such as credit and insurance.

Athena lends money to clients who put up artworks as collateral. The loans typically equal as much as 50 percent of the low estimate of a client’s collection, with maturities ranging from six months to seven years. It provided more than $170 million of art-secured financing through June 8, it told clients in an email.

Carlyle and Athena had no comment, while a Pictet spokeswoman said the firm had no immediate comment.

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