The Chicago Tribune offers a fascinating look at Leslie Hindman’s rapidly expanding business. Hindman recently opened an office in Naples, Florida where Chicagoans and other Midwesterners escape the winters. Now Hindman is moving across Florida to open offices in Palm Beach but also up North from her Chicago base to Milwaukee.
What’s driving Hindman’s growth? Two different economic trends. The first is somewhat surprising and, in part, explains the move to Milwaukee to source lots from the once wealthy industrial Midwest as Hindman does a little global arbitrage from down-on-their-luck Americans to cash-rich Asians:
Stubbornly high unemployment is driving people to sell their possessions; art is transforming into a valid investment class; and the Internet is providing Hindman easy access to a growing number of global art consumers, particularly in Asia.
The second is the growth of the middle market and the opening created by Sotheby’s move to concentrate exclusively on the high-end global buyer:
Hindman said the market has held up because more people can afford a $50,000 work by late Chicago artist Ed Paschke than a $20 million Monet. And she’s now capable of reaching Paschke fans around the globe quickly and cheaply via the Internet. “We really are a marketing firm; that’s all we are,” said Hindman, who founded her company in 1982, sold it to Sotheby’s in 1997 and reopened in 2003.
Auctioneer Leslie Hindman Expands to Milwaukee, Palm Beach, FLA (Chicago Tribune)