Galleries ask: “Will You Love Me Forever?”
The Master, Judd Tully, goes over the ground of gallery re-sale agreements in Art + Auction. Christie’s Amy Cappellazzo recently referred to re-sale agreements as “love letters” from collectors to dealers and artists. Tully’s article opens with the story of a Murakami withdrawn from a sale because it violated the artist’s re-sale agreement. Tully gives all sides of the story but, in the end, it appears that most of the issue gets worked out in the marketplace one way or another. What the article doesn’t say is that the art market may finally be moving to a greater acceptance of transactions as part of the life of a work of art–not unlike a museum show or a retrospective. Of course, that would require dealers to be more accepting of the idea that an artist’s value might fluctuate over time.
Tully also tells the story of art advisor Todd Levin’s experience with galleries who had a re-sale agreement:
Some buyers, however, find such terms onerous. Todd Levin, of the New York–based Levin Art Group and the longtime curator of the Adam Sender collection, says that certain gallerists seem to believe that the resale of primary artwork for any reason is gross negligence. [ . . . ] Levin made his somewhat satirical comment after describing the aftermath of the November 2006 sale by Sender of a group of guaranteed works at Phillips de Pury & Company that caused considerable consternation in the art world. As one well-connected adviser put it, “Sender was given priority because the dealers believed he was a true collector, and now he’s viewed as a speculator and a seller.”
In the collector’s defense, Levin says he personally called every dealer whose artists’ works were going up at auction, giving them the heads-up required in the resale agreements and even offering a 10 percent discount—the same markdown Sender had received from the galleries—on the prices Phillips had guaranteed. Only one dealer, whom Levin didn’t identify, decided to buy back a work before the auction; the rest exercised their option not to.
One of the works, Richard Prince’s Tender Nurse, 2002, made $2,256,000. Sender had bought it at a 2003 exhibition at Barbara Gladstone, where the prices ranged from $40,000 to $95,000.
So the question–that may be answered in the coming years–will be whether exchange is good or bad for an artist’s ultimate value.
Wrangling Over Resales (ArtInfo)