Sunday 18 March 2007

That's vile

How do you feel about clients buying works from you and selling them at auction?

I feel sorry for them if they ever plan on buying anything else from me ... but seriously, when they buy a work from me they're buying it from the artist. And if they then take that piece of art from the artist and stick it in the auction house, that is an abuse of the relationship which is created through the purchase ... the artist-collector relationship, which, by the way, is the central relationship in the history of art.

Someone bought a painting from Tim Eitel two years ago for $2000, it's nine inches square. They sold it at auction - those paintings are not $2000 any more, now they're $9000 - they sold it for $120,000. That's vile. That's not art collecting. If you bought it two years ago, what happened? Are you broke now? No, that person is not starving. Did they turn to the artist's gallery and sat: "Would you like a chance to place this in the right collection (because mine is obviously not)" or whatever? What happens is you breed a class of people like Charles Saatchi whose only interest, in my estimation, is to raise himself above the artists and take pleasure from destroying their lives. They attempt to corner the market by buying dozens or hundreds of works and then, when the moment is right, dump them at auction; they capture the upside and then the market falls away. The first artist Saatchi famously did this to was Sandro Chia, whose market never recovered. For what pleasure did he do this? To destroy Sandro Chia's life? What happened to his insistence that his devotion to artists was the reason the dealer should sell him work after work? What about his friend Damien Hirst whom he extorted millions out of by threatening to dump a dozen major works at auction? The booming market and the auction system breeds this parasitic behaviour which to me is a little reminiscent of the Romans entertaining themselves by throwing the Christians to the lions. So I guess you might say, I'm not a big fan.

Marc Glimcher, president, PaceWildenstein Gallery, New York. Quoted in Adam Lindemann's Collecting Contemporary, Taschen, 2006.

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