In a city that faces a greater threat from cruise ships than art sales, it is worth remembering, as Georgina Adam tells us all in the Financial Times, that the Venice Biennale was established with commerce in mind:
The Biennale was founded to establish a new market for contemporary art, and indeed selling was, between 1942-68, officially sanctioned. A sales office, run by the dealer Ettore Gian Ferrari, helped artists to find customers and place their work, making a 10 per cent commission for the Biennale organisers. And it was successful — too successful for the art dealers who felt cut out, and for the leftwing students who in 1968, that year of revolt, started attacking the event as a “playground of the rich”.
Merchants of Venice: is the Biennale too commercial? (Financial Times)