Artsy's Anny Shaw has a funny piece stirring the pot on the issue of flipping. Ostensibly, the article is a follow-up to the attention Thaddaeus Ropac received in his Talking Galleries (above) presentation and discussion where he made a comment about blacklisting some buyers who were too quick to flip works. (The comments start around 42:00.) Somehow this got blown out of proportion into a call for a "new" blacklist. Ropac explains what his pressures are and admits that he doesn't know the right answers.
Shaw responds by speaking to art advisor Todd Levin and dealer Ed Winkelman who both put the concept of flipping into a slightly different context. A select few artists with strong demand and highly controlled markets have seen their work perform extraordinarily well at auction recently. But the overall trend toward flipping new works has largely dried up.
A look at the upcoming auctions suggests the public market is moving toward 'quality' expressed in works by artists with lasting reputations. That doesn't mean art collectors no longer flip. They're just doing it privately. Which they have always done.
Here's what Shaw got out of Winkelman and Levin:
“If you read the way that some collector-dealers work […] it does seem there is still a fair bit of what one could call ‘flipping’ happening privately,” says the New York dealer Ed Winkleman. […]
“The velocity and ferocity of flipping increased exponentially between 2010 and 2015 and created instability in the market, particularly for younger artists,” Levin says. “Many younger artists’ careers were severely damaged.” […]
“In some cases major collectors have enough power in the market so that galleries can’t afford to blacklist them—for instance, if a collector is a significant trustee at an important museum,” he says.
This is all fine and good. Winkleman points out that dealers are agents for the artists and must work in the best interests. It might take a dissertation to define what that means in terms of balancing a young artist's financial and reputational/career interests, however. But there's another layer to this that Shaw hints at by speaking to Stefan Simchowitz who points out that the so-called speculators are a gallery's best customers.
What this raises is a matter that goes beyond Simchowitz. The ranks of collectors who buy and sell a great deal of art is one of the central transformations of the art market over the last 15 years. (The rest of this analysis is for AMMpro subscribers.)
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