In 2009, Tim Goodman was the man who stunned the art world by buying the license to the iconic Sotheby’s Australia. This was no easy feat, as it was the only time the New York-based fine art auction house had entered into a brand license agreement since it was founded in 1744. It seemed like a dream come true—the height of a 40-year career of climbing the ranks of the traditional auction industry—but in 2011, he sold to management buy-outs and took a break from the business.
Now, he’s returned with a decidedly less traditional venture: Fine Art Bourse, the latest disruptor of the fine art auction industry. In this interview, Goodman talks about his goals for equitability made possible by his new auction model, his recent run-in with Facebook censorship, and a titillating upcoming sale.
Why did you renounce your ownership of Sotheby’s Australia?
I spent 40 years in the business, watching it grow and change. I lived and breathed it, but by 2011, I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with where the industry was heading—Costs were going up faster than revenues. Something had to give. So I stepped away from it. I started to conceive a new digital alternative and in 2014, the concept of Fine Art Bourse, or FAB, was born.
Where does the traditional auction house model fall short in your opinion? Where do you see an opportunity for change?
The traditional auction house model is simply unsustainable. Every other big industry has been challenged by digital technology, and this is the only other one that remains unchallenged.
Brick-and-mortar auction houses charge outlandish fees for their services based on three cost points: real estate, human resources, and paper. So our main objective with FAB is to use the advantages of digital technology to break down the costs involved in the brick-and-mortar auction model. Read more