"The nature of this business is you find yourself having to enforce your rights in court from time to time," he said.
Mr. Baird, who met Mr. Peck when they were children spending their summers in Southampton, N.Y., said he expected business to get better. In an interview in the company's office, Mr. Baird held up his BlackBerry, showing that he had just gotten two e-mail messages with queries about how much Art Capital could lend on collections of modern art.
"The town house, there's no equity behind it, the house at the beach is at half or a third of what they had it valued at last year," he said. "All of a sudden, the art becomes a very important asset."