Not allowed to BUY
Art Historian Tascha Sciarone there to welcome or laugh at you? - Photo B. de Groot
Are there people we don't sell to?
Or even entertain the notion of selling art to?
So you want to buy an artwork? You summon up the courage to walk into a gallery. The impeccably dressed, glamourous and beautiful people in the gallery, give you one look and sniffs in disgust.
Completely ignoring you and making you retreat in humiliation. Barred from this world by unspoken rules you don't know how to adhere to. Looked down upon and disregarded.
Those pretentious, leaching b*st*rds!
Or so a lot of people imagine it will be like to walk into a gallery.
The reality is, the gallery would love you to come in! Whether to admire the art like it is in a museum, enquire about the price or buy the painting. But there are people we do not entertain. Do you know who they are? The answer will surprise you because it's not you.
From our perspective
Apart from the dozens of emails, calls and visits we get from interested art collectors, musing armchair art admirers and artists, there is an insidious amount of individuals that come into the gallery space fishing to see if we will bite into their scam. From large orders to non-existing locations of scammers trying to imbed themselves into the payment software or to the basic cheque scam. We vet every sold artwork.
We have to google everyone that buys from us. Or establish some sort of relationship. On the one hand, the artist loves the story of who is buying their art and where the new home will be, on the other hand, we need to check if this person is not going to be a problem. Problematic to us, our artist or the art.
And people can be problematic for several reasons, ranging from basic internet scams to situations like what happened in Haarlem in early 1900s.
This is an Art Historic anecdote. I will first type the story as I remember hearing it more than 10 years ago and then I will fact-check it afterwards. Because it is a good story and I want to tell it.
Haarlem early 1900's
NO NEPO BABY'S ALLOWED!
In Haarlem, a famous art city in the Netherlands, a few local painters formed a group. They were the epitome of poor starving artists, who had entered the academy and survived only on their artistic brilliance. A wealthy privileged artist wanted to join their group. The group refused him entry because he had no real talent according to them. His artistic prowess they argued was only due to him being a nepotism baby. As he was born to wealth and privileges that the other artist did not have, they denied him entry.
Big artistic commission
The group of artists go around doing their artistic thing, all the while barring Nepo baby from entering and taunting him. The artistic geniuses get a huge commission to create a monumental painting as a group. The art collector is paying an exorbitant amount but wants to remain anonymous. Which the artists understand, as they can imagine the unsolicited contact people might attempt to make of their benfactor.
The group taunts the Nepo baby with this commission. Crowing their genius for being commissioned on such a large and prestigious project. The genius group works on it for over a year. The painting is huge, it is detailed, and it is the combined effort of so many talented artists' time and skill.
This was going to be what cemented their artistic legacy for the ages.
Some of you know where this is going.
The day of presenting the painting
The day comes in which this monumental art piece is presented to the public. This is also the day that the artists will meet their benefactor. It is truly an exciting moment that has been building up for months.
No one knows who the benefactor will be. Depending on who it is, will also influence where the work will find its home will the artwork be for a museum? A church? A private villa?
Also remember, this painting is so huge and the artists are so excited to cement their names to the annals of history.
Their expectations of themselves and their careers is in the sky with this moment.
Who turns up to collect the artwork? Who is the generous benefactor who had paid this enormous amount up front?
Hiding in anonimity this last year, behind the reasons of being private and humble?
It is none other than the wealthy artist they had been taunting all year with this commission.
The artists group with mouths agape hand the wealthy artist collected his commissioned piece.
And then he BURNS it!
Her burns the painting.
Right in front of them.
Tried to factcheck it. Could not find anything on this story. I still enjoy it.
Do I think someone is the villian here? No everyone was horrible. I think the wealthy artist should not have been barred from being part of the local artists group. But also understand that these artists did not want to have to deal with someone who might have been completely blind to his privilege. The wealthy artist not realizing the threat that was to the precarious situation of the artists, without familial wealth.
But also did the wealthy artist want to be in a community that was jealous of his stable foundation? People that undermined his creativity?
In a perfect world, the wealthy artist, would have been aware of his privilege and the group should have admitted him. Together they could work mutually beneficial, the wealthy artist introducing the starving artist to wealthier clientele. And they would meet to an extent art pour l' art.
And there is a reason you have galleries, to broker art deals and act as middle man, without an emotional stake vested in the artwork created and protect both parties.
Moral of the story
What I take out of this story is:
Will the art collector cherish the artwork? Will the artwork find a place in someone's life?
Or will the artwork be burned? Hidden under a bed. Put in the shed?
In the past I have been blinded by the idea of selling of an artwork, without considering if selling it was the right step.
After a few years in the artworld, there are people I do not sell art work to.
Vetting art collectors
Some people want to buy for their children. Seeing as spouses can hardly decide on an artwork together, how much more difficult will it be to buy for your daughter in law?
This is why we have wedding gift certificates.
Some people buy without the input of their significant others and the artwork gets put into the attic. Come in together.
Posing as "Art Collectors"
People coming in to admire the artwork are most certainly welcome. But you have people with ulterior motives.
Some people buy the artwork to try and get their own work featured. This is usually smaller pieces.
Other people pretending to be an art collector for several hours, before admitting to be trying to build a repertoire with the gallery owner. In an effort to be featured by the art gallery
Some people are lonely and just want someone to talk to. Seeing as my job is to talk to people about art, some people see it as a victimless way to dissipate their loneliness. This is a business and not an emotional support group.
And the final type of posing "art collector" is the person trying to run a scam in some way.
Like Mathew (fake name they use) here below, gives about 6 hours of work to be done in a short amount of time, before casually mentioning that he can only pay per cheque. Que the red flag of clueing you in that its an "overcharge" scam.
My name is Mathew Peterson from Richmond Indiana. I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to our wedding anniversary which is just around the corner. I stormed on to some of your works which I found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit you're doing quite an impressive job. You are undoubtedly good at what you do.
With that being said, I would like to purchase some of your works as a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of work, with their respective prices and sizes, which are ready for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $1,000 to $10,000
I look forward to reading from you in order to know more about your pieces of inventory. As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept checks as a means of payment.
Are you allowed to buy an artwork?
We don't know who you are when you come into the gallery space. If your intention is to come into stroll and admire, enquire or hang the artwork somewhere you can enjoy it, then YES you can buy the art. YES you are more than welcome, even if you end up not buying any art from us right at that moment. Your not the problem, you are a dream! Come in, you are welcome, you are wanted you are amazing!
The people who we do not entertain, are people who would never buy art from us from the first place.
And unfortunately there are drastically more of these people reaching out to us than people coming for the art.
And a final group of people are people we do not appreciate, are people interested in spending time with the gallerist, for whatever reason. Either artist who want to be represented or people who assume any other interest from Tascha. Yes, we do drink drinks with people at openings and art Art Fairs. Yes, art allows for very deep and interesting conversations, but those are not open invitations to start another sort of relationship. Tascha is happily partnered to a very beautiful person whom she has two children with and a dog. She will happily listen to you about all the art in the gallery, but is not available for dinner or drinks any spark you feel is a spark about the art, wrongfully interpreted as interest.
ART POUR L'ART!
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P. S. Tascha is not trying to come over as conceited, but some men interpret a woman being out in public as fare game for them to pursuit interest. Regardless of her own intentions. That if they were not available they would be protected and kept home by 'their' men (father, brother or partner). Please know if you think like that, explicitly or implicitly, then this is part of the base layer of sexism and violence against women. Even though most interaction of being asked out on dates in the pretence of closing a sale or discussing art, seems fairly tame, it is often repeated several times, even after informing them of my disinterest. Please educate yourself by reading