One of the values of having Paul Allen sponsor your local art fair is the seamlessly managed publicity. Allen gave the New York Times everything it wanted—and more—by walking the fair and suggesting he might be buying to reward the galleries who attended.
The Microsoft billionaire wasn’t the only one spending. The Times reported that Pace sold a Yoshitomo Nara work and some of Allen’s peers lent a hand to validate the fair too:
“I saw that there were some New York dealers participating, I thought it would be interesting to see and support the city,” said the New York collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, who came on a whim and wound up buying a half-dozen works from dealers from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Seattle, including a piece by the local artist Jeffry Mitchell. As for prices, “it was a range,” she said. “I love finding art for under $1,000, which was very possible there.”
There were also some big-ticket sales, including “Revolution #2,” by the Chilean artist Iván Navarro, that went for over $100,000 at the Paul Kasmin Gallery. Pieces by Oscar Murillo and Christopher Williams also fetched five and six figures. To cement the idea that this was “a major league show,” said Max Fishko, a managing partner of Art Market Productions, the Brooklyn company that produced the fair, “we needed those sales.”
One prize was a buyer like Sarah Barton, a Seattle-area doctor whose husband, Richard Barton, is a founder of Expedia and Zillow.com. With homes on the West and East Coasts, and Zillow’s expanding headquarters here, Ms. Barton, 48, was briskly eyeing pieces, including a wall-height Wim Wenders photograph of a Buddha. “I just look at what jumps out at me,” she said. Ms. Barton typically buys photography and works by emerging artists at fairs, she said. With 62 galleries from around the world set up in the WaMu Theater here, “I feel like the hit rate should be pretty decent,” she said as she browsed on opening night on Thursday. An image of the Wenders work, displayed at the James Cohan Gallery booth, went out to Mr. Barton’s assistant.
Seattle Art Fair Receives a Boost From Tech’s Big Spenders (The New York Times)