Let the Charles Saatchi backlash begin! The Economist’s Frieze coverage focuses on the”competition between art fairs and auctions” which the magazine tells us “is fraught with misunderstanding.” To clear up the confusion, the magazine offers the case of noted art churner Charles Saatchi. The magazine concludes that:
Mr Saatchi has successfully exploited his position as a middleman between these middlemen. It’s a clever place from which to play the art market as long as his behaviour appears dignified rather than desperate. There is a surprisingly fine line between being a conniving jerk and a cool mastermind.
[… S]ome are grumbling about Mr Saatchi’s business practices. Five years ago, London art dealers used the information that the tycoon, who some call “Scratchy”, had purchased their artists’ work as part of their sales pitch. Mr Saatchi was thought to have a prescient eye and a Midas touch. But nowadays many gallerists try to avoid selling to him because they know it means their artists’ works will shortly hit the auction block, introducing unwelcome volatility into their markets.
[…] The power to validate requires a measure of credibility and commitment. Moreover, the velocity with which Mr Saatchi buys and sells is at risk of making his provenance akin to eBay. […] Mr Saatchi was responsible for 23% of the lots (13 works) in Phillips’s evening auction. Additionally, he contributed at least two paintings to Christie’s and five works to Sotheby’s evening sales. These 20 evening lots were followed by an onslaught of day sale material.
Making Sense of the Art Trade During Frieze Week (Economist)