Can’t Afford to Buy That Nice Painting? Rent It, for Cheap.

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Perhaps luxury rentals are a compromise for life in a post-recession era. With our hands freshly slapped from over-spending, instead of buying whatever we want, we rent the things we don’t need. This, at any rate, is an opportunity that a New York company is providing cash-strapped art-lovers.

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Artsicle, which went live yesterday, isn’t the first company that allows people to rent art instead of (or before) buying it, but they are occupying a rare low-price range. Their paintings, photographs and sculptures, all from emerging (read: less expensive) artists, can be rented for $50 a month. And should the trial go well, purchase prices range from about $175 to $5,000. Many other art rental companies, geared toward corporations or movie sets rather than burgeoning collectors, charge prices more along the lines of $200 per week.

The founders took their inspiration from other luxury rental outfitters like Rent the Runway, which loans out high-end designer dresses, and Bag, Borrow or Steal (now Avelle), which does the same for handbags. Even if money isn’t an issue, this business model gives the hemming-and-hawing consumer a chance to make sure they truly can’t live without that really expensive thing before the money is gone forever. And there’s also the opportunity to impress that special someone at a discount (assuming, of course, that special someone is the type to be impressed by logos and fancy vases).

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