The Elite World of Art Dealers

Pic of “Girl with Balloon”, Street Artwork by Banksy in Berlin Germany

Several days ago, famed street artist and British political activist, Banksy, known for his street graffiti throughout the world, commissioned Sotheby’s to auction his art piece “Girl with Balloon” (which has been previously painted on public spaces). To the shock of patrons in the room, once the auctioneer’s traditional banging of the gavel announced to the world that the piece had sold for $1.4 million, we all got to witness the infamous act of Banksy’s work slowly descended into a shredder that was built into the paintings frame. Needless to say, chaos ensued as the gallery watched in horror as the painting was intentionally destroyed by the artist.

The shredding was an act of snubbing his nose to the elite who spend millions on his graffiti work as fine art, yet instead the partially shredded artwork then astonishingly grew in value to $2 million dollars as it was renamed “Love Is In the Bin”; his message of exposing the love-hate relationship of artists’ commitment to purity of their art and the buying elite’s hunger to snatch up these works of art, no matter the cost.

Being an international trader or collector of art pieces among the wealthy is viewed as a sound investments and being a part of an exclusive club who can influence the art world just by the pieces purchased of a particular artist.

The players involved in this tight circle that place value on the works of art include dealers and gallery owners. The buying and selling of artwork is a network of art dealers and auction houses determining the next best contemporary artist or perhaps, have the good fortune to sell an old collection of works.

Professional art dealers search for particular artists to represent while developing networks with both collectors and museums that will complement the artists’ works. For elite dealers, they have developed the ability to anticipate or influence trends with the art world. Art dealers travel internationally to exhibitions, auctions and artists’ studios, looking for the latest and greatest with emerging artists. Dealers then resell their purchases to galleries or to private collectors.

A competitive market filled with both novice and established dealers, the most recognized names with well known international gallery houses include Forbes top ten: Larry Gogosian (Gagosian Gallary), David Zwirner (David Zwirner Gallary), Arne Glimcher (The Pace Gallery), Iwan Wirth (Hauser & Wirth), Marian Goodman (Marian Goodman Gallery), Matthew Marks, (Matthew Marks Gallery), Dominique Levy and Robert Mnuchin (L & M Arts), Paula Cooper (Paula Cooper Gallery), Barbara Gladstone (Gladstone Gallary) and William Acquavella (Acquavella Galleries)

A growing interesting trend occurring among the art investing millennial generation is the buying and selling of new artists online as oppose to traditional methods. It allows younger collectors to seek out emerging artists and form a relationship with the artist bypassing art houses. Social media platforms such as Intagram, Facebook and PInterest have offered opportunities for artists to invite followers to be a part of the creation process and have the opportunity to introduce new works. This has certainly shifted buying patterns as PayPal is just as viable as an online payment source to tech savvy art connoisseurs.

The world of investment art was devastated during the economic recession of 2008, however with a solid economic turnaround and the growth of new multi-millionaires, this industry has rebounded tremendously with no signs of slowing down. -AJ

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Hat tip to content sources:

Forbes for Top Ten Art Dealers (


Fast Company:

Photography Credit:

Girl with Balloon photo by Eric Ward at Unsplash

Art Supplies photo by Freephotocc Pixabay

Mona Lisa photo by Free-photo

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