James Tarmy has been looking for under valued artists to recommend to Bloomberg’s audience who must be interested in investing in art. At NADA in Miami he found John McAllister’s work. McAllister got his MFA with Mike Kelley where his peers were stars like Sterling Ruby. But the artist has followed a different path to success.
Although he has precious little museum representation, McAllister is dealer’s darling with half a dozen galleries dividing up his market in the US and Europe. The secret is the art which his primary dealer James Fuentes says pretty much sells itself. According to Fuentes, McAllister’s first show in 2009 sold out at $2500 a painting before the opening. “We sent out an email with an image [of McAllister’s paintings],” and, says Fuentes. “the phone was ringing off the hook.”
Since then, McAllister has had a remarkably smooth career without getting caught in the auction or museum spotlight. That has had its benefits but Fuentes knows the artist won’t get to the next level without cracking the museum club:
His art sells for about $20,000 for a small painting, $30,000 for a midsize work, and $70,000 for a massive piece. Despite the sold-out shows of yore, his art has never once sold at auction, and his collectors rarely ask Fuentes to resell their works. “All the resales, for the most part, have come back to me,” Fuentes says. “And we’ve done a total of 10 or so over the last 10 years. People aren’t really letting them go.” Currently, he says, there are works available for purchase, which means supply is meeting though not eclipsing demand.
“We don’t want to push his prices to a crazy place,” he says. “Once you inch past $75,000 and get to $100,000, it seems like it’s pushing it.
“I would say maybe once an institutional response comes around,” Fuentes continues, “then maybe such a price would be warranted.”
How to Succeed in Art Without Relying on ‘The Art World’ (Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East)