Want to jump the queue at the hottest exhibits before the tourists pile in? Dying to get a drawing lesson from a top artist like Natalie Frank inside her studio? Daydreaming about lunching with your favorite sculptor? Then you might want to call The Cultivist.
Founded by ex-Sothebys staffers Marlies Verhoeven and Daisy Peat, the first-of-its-kind global arts club offers all of the above—and then some. For a price tag of $2,500, the velvet rope experience includes front-of-the-line admission to more than 100 museums around the world (LACMA, the Met, the Royal Academy, to name a few) with up to three guests and private, pre-opening exhibition tours, early access to art fairs like Art Basel and Frieze, intimate artist studio visits and other personalized perks. “We’ve created a club of likeminded people that are really interested in the arts,” says Verhoeven. “Half of our members are big-time collectors; the second half are people who are used to a certain level of VIP treatment in the rest of their lives. It creates an interesting conversation—a real sense of community.”
The catch: memberships are capped at 1,000 in the first year. To make the cream-of-the-crop cut, individuals must pass a careful vetting process, which includes a brief interview. “We want to make sure our members are there for the right reasons,” says Verhoeven, whose well-heeled members already span from New York and Miami to Paris and Rio de Janeiro. “We look for a genuine interest in the arts. That doesn’t mean you have to have a multi-million dollar collection, but we’re not looking for people who are joining just because they want to network.”
Once you’re in, expect top-notch service. Peat and Verhoeven, who have racked up quite the Rolodex, use their art-world connections to create customized travel itineraries that connect members with local artists in cities around the globe. “We’re that curated voice that based on a member’s profile, can put together something that they know is going to be great,” she says. Even the club card, which features an original portrait of the holder designed by London artist Miranda Donovan, is personalized. “For us, integrating artists into everything we do is important and we do it in every way possible.”