The Gray Market: Why Galleries Shouldn’t Sell Primarily to Museums (and Other Insights)

Every Monday morning, artnet News brings you The Gray Market. The column decodes important stories from the previous week—and offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the art industry in the process. 

This week, stories about financial uncertainties for gallerists, artists, and museums alike…

SWISS MISS: On Tuesday, my colleague Henri Neuendorf interviewed Jean-Claude Freymond-Guth, the midlevel Swiss gallerist who announced the closure of his namesake space in Basel less than a week earlier. But while Freymond-Guth used the opportunity to make multiple valid points about the polarized structure of the industry—most of them expansions on his much-discussed farewell-letter-turned-industry critique—he also may have revealed at least one entirely avoidable flaw in his business plan.

In the course of denying the idea that his gallery previously sustained itself via secondary-market sales, Freymond-Guth mentioned that he and his staff were “in a very privileged situation where we [sold] mainly to institutions”—a process in which “the negotiations take months and months.” In fact, as other experienced dealers could attest, “months and months” can sometimes extend to a year or more, depending on the stature (and budgets) of the players involved.

And yet, this is exactly why selling “mainly to institutions” would be like siring a brood of children mainly to staff your own business: The day the plan finally matures, you’ve probably already blown far too much time and money for it to pay off. At least, that is, if you’re a midlevel gallery not also aggressively marketing your pending museum acquisitions to collectors from the moment talks become serious. Read more

2018-10-29T11:04:26+00:00