It’s meant to be difficult to understand.
You see, it’s actually pretty simple. Art is an industry. Art is a business. Art is – more and more – a commodity. Art is also one of the best ways to make friends that “matter.” Start collecting and the invitations will roll in. Stop, and it’s back to Siberia. No one is going to be attracted to the wolf without his sheep’s clothing.
The fact that it’s a global business generating billions in sales and cold cash doesn’t sound glamorous, alluring, sexy or enticing. So apply layer after layer of mystery and illusion, build high walls with ladders only for those chosen to climb them, hide information, use a language few can understand, and voila, the art world is as sexy as 1950’s Hollywood – and as difficult to enter.
It’s meant to feel confusing and intimidating. It’s meant to be fueled by rumors and speculation (with a few A-listers and scandals thrown in). Why do most online auction businesses not publish sold prices? Why is it as tough to get the list price of something as getting tickets to see Adele in concert? Why is very little explained or justified? Because that’s the way it’s built.
Once you understand and accept that it’s meant to be a maze, you might feel less intimidated. Embrace it for what it is and keep in mind that it’s a business no matter how expensive the champagne you are being served is, and you won’t go wrong.
Find and work with those you can trust – with the right pedigree, backgrounds and experience – and check their resumes and references. Just because someone tells you they worked in the Impressionist department at Christie’s for 5 years doesn’t mean they did. They might’ve been the photocopier maintenance man.
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