Kenny Schachter went to ArtBasel but on the way to Switzerland he learned just how incestuous the art world can be—and that nothing remains a secret:
the giant inbreeding beast that today’s art market has become rears its head when the dealer on my left asks if I’m interested in a particular painting, then tips her iPhone to reveal a familiar looking piece. When I respond that I’ve seen it already, she looks at me in disbelief and says that’s just not possible. I poke around on my laptop, find the painting, and show it to her.
As conversation ensues between the other adviser/dealers, I can see her, out of the corner of my eye, furiously tapping away on her phone. About what just happened? Accusing the seller? Another dealer? Me?
Soon enough, she cranes her neck to glance at my screen and spies another work from her client. She seems beyond exasperated.
Meanwhile, the consultant across from her asks if I’m interested in a different soup du jour. Again, I tell him I’ve already been offered the work, and, again, he denies that this could be possible. He actually owns the thing, he tells me, and goes on to say how rare it is nowadays that it’s not even part of a rev-share deal. Still, I ensure him that an image of the work, like the other one, is on my computer. He must have shared it with at least one other person.
At which point the third dealer chimes in, critiquing a Paul Thek show I recently curated at Pace London before stating to dealer number one that she too has been offered both of the paintings we’ve been discussing.
The Naked Truth About Basel: A Diary (Gallerist)