09 February 2007

Prospect by name, prospecting by nature

The buzz of the art blogs this morning is City Gallery's 40% +gst (so effectively 52.5%) cut on artist's multiples. The story was broken by the good folks at Overthenet
(who I must thank for an insightful contribution to the Collectors forum at the National Library yesterday), and Bestofthree has picked up the charge. Of course, I'm assuming it's accurate, despite being on the Internet.

This rather disturbs me on 2 levels: the dealers I know work bloody hard for their cut of the final sale price, in terms of developing the artist's career, the market for their work, getting it into collections etc. They're covering overheads and fixed costs solely from the revenue made on selling art. They don't have a benevolent council to bail out any funding shortfall they might have. They have receivers. I really just don't see the front of house staff at City delivering anywhere near the same level of service or value a dealer does. (the same might be said for the whole secondary market, but I'll leave that debate for another day).

And secondly, they seem to be treating the artist multiples as any other retail product – with a standard cost plus pricing structure. To me this indicates they're positioning the works in the realm of commodity - (Been there done that, got the t-shirt/postcard/artist's multiple) and art just isn't an FMCG, no matter how hard the artist might try to position it as such (think Warhol).

I'm really interested in who will be partaking in the offer of selling multuiples, and I'm keen to know what the artists (and their dealers) think of it.

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