For your best art buyers

From The Girl with the Gallery: Edith Gregor Halpert and the Making of the Modern Art Market (the book I keep raving about):

In another brazen sales gambit, [Halpert] concocted a plan to sell in bulk to museums, telling Stieglitz of her scheme to offer the Metropolitan Museum of Art a large group of American pictures with the proviso they might exchange the paintings at any time, if another work by the same artist appealed more. She adopted this selling scheme from Joseph Duveen . . . Duveen offered his millionaire customers the option to sell back their purchases.  (page 293)

Is it brilliant art marketing to offer your very best customers (not just anyone!) one of these options?

Some artists are always trying to think up extra services they can offer their customers. Is this a good one?

If you haven’t listened already, check out the art of persuasion before you dismiss this idea.

(By the way, Duveen: A Life in Art is another book on my shelf that needs opening and reading!)

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2 comments to For your best art buyers

  • Sell back their purchases? Pretty scary. But we always allow people to return a painting within a reasonable time period if they find it doesn’t work for them. I think it has only happened once. I was in a gallery in Santa Fe last winter and overheard the director talking about a new work that had just come in… it was a fabulous huge self portrait with every nose hair & freckle in precise detail. The director was saying that it was $18,000, but whoever was at the other end would receive their usual 20% discount. On the one hand selling an $18,000 painting is definitely cause for celebration, but I get a creepy Walmart feeling. Shouldn’t art be price at the actual price that the patron will pay?

  • I would be happy to exchange a painting that someone wasn’t completely satisfied with…..so far, it hasn’t happened. I also would rather buy back a piece than have someone be unhappy with it. (I have trouble letting them go!) However, selling art in bulk to a museum with that option as a stated part of the bargain—I don’t know. I would have to know the person who was representing the museum pretty well, and trust their judgement. Just because someone works for a museum doesn’t make them trustworthy or ethical to deal with.