Globe-girdling art galleries have captured most of the art world’s attention over the last few years as the necessary footprint for representing artists has grown to immense proportions. For those firms and the ordinary dealers, art fairs have also offered a way to enter new markets and fill in the spaces where even the Leviathans of the art world cannot easily cover.
In this story from Maclean’s two years ago, Victor Restoin Roitfeld and his partner at the time, Andy Valmorbida, hint at another way of skinning the art dealing cat:
Their formula seems to be working. The Hambleton show also exhibited in Milan, Cannes, London, and at the Moscow State Museum of Modern Art. They’ve also done shows in Los Angeles and Florence, as well as Australia, with upcoming events planned for Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. Sales, reportedly, have been great—the New York Hambleton show sold out.
“We’re a global art brand, which has never been done before,” said Valmorbida, explaining that they do everything from managing an artist’s career to curating, sales and international press. Their partners have included galleries, museums and sponsors including Bombardier Aerospace, Giorgio Armani and RVCA. The pair’s decision to work with an artist is based in part on chemistry and instinct. “We basically want to get one amazing artist a year and focus on him or her until they’re on top of the art world. The hardest thing is finding the artist, it has to be, ‘Oh my God, we know we’ve found it.’ Another task is getting them on board, then dealing with the artist six or seven months before the show, getting art out of them, getting them to release it…”
Restoin Roitfeld and Valmorbida went their separate ways (amicably.) And Restoin Roitfeld has migrated toward a more conventional gallery approach with a more conventional Upper East Side space called No5A. But that too is another collaboration.
Restoin Roitfeld’s unconventional model may take years to measure—or to work itself out. But last Fall’s Sotheby’s S2 sale gave the nomadic dealer a new level of legitimacy. And, according to numbers he gave Forbes at the time, a decent return:
Roitfeld claims 80% of the artwork typically sells on opening night–astonishing, considering that established dealers sell closer to 20% to 25%. Whatever the case, he usually keeps half the take from the artist and will clear more than an estimated $400,000 pretax on revenue of $2 million [in 2012.]
Fine Art for the Masses (Maclean’s)