Monday, June 06, 2016

The Banker's Guide To The Art Market

The Banker's Guide to Art is a documentary to be broadcast by the BBC later this month. The apparent aim is to take a less "reverential" view of the financial realities of art than ever before.

This is how the BBC describes the upcoming programme
Step inside a world of high art, low cunning and prices beyond your wildest imaginings. The Banker's Guide To The Art Market is a revealing, wry and rare look behind doors that are closed to most of us. Propelled by the newly rich of the financial world, London's art market has soared to historic highs.

The film deconstructs this extraordinary phenomenon and looks back over a century of the market’s twists and turns to try to explain it, talking to outspoken collector Jeffrey Archer - 'I couldn’t afford to buy my own pictures’ - maverick dealer Kenny Schacter - 'when money is introduced it brings out the worst in people' - and gallerist Nicholas Logsdail - 'You'll never go wrong, if you buy from a good gallery'. We don’t think you will look at a painting in quite the same way again…
So who are the people taking part and what have they had to say on this topic before now? Turns out they're more interesting than you might think....

Kenny Schacter - art dealer, curator, commentator

Mr Schacter has generated an article in the Telegraph today Art world is 'hotbed' of corruption, collector claims  (hence this blog post) following his appearance at the Hay Festival last week.

Schacter has accounts on but doesn't really do Twitter or Facebook - but does use Instagram (see above) so to find out what he thinks you have to follow his articles on Artnet News.

Here's a selection of his articles:
So he basically seems to be saying:

  • the level of corruption in the art world is directly associated to the level of sums involved
  • dealers plant false bidders at auctions to ramp up prices for their clients
  • prices announced in public for an artwork boost the reputation of artists - despite the fact the sale might take place privately for a much lower figure
  • museums and galleries who know which artists are going to be in future exhibitions can capitalise on that knowledge - since shows will usually enhance the value of such artists
"Any time a lot of money crops up, hideous behaviour follows too"

  • art sales are used for money laundering - people buying are not interested in the artwork - they just want to shift ill gotten gains
  • as a result banks now look very carefully at deposits and withdrawals related to artwork
I assume the latter is the underlying topic for the BBC documentary given its title.

Jeffrey Archer - art collector

"Dr Syntax at auction" by Thomas Rowlandson - owned and sold by Jeffrey Archer in 2011 
at the Christie's auction: "The Jeffrey Archer Sale: Decades of Collecting"

Jeffrey Archer is of course a well known ex MP, who has a history of scandal and making money. Plus he resided at Her Majesty's pleasure for a while and has a stunning penthouse in between MI6 and the Houses of Parliament which contains his rather good art collection. He's been collecting art for over 40 years.

Nicholas Logsdail - art gallerist

Nicholas Logsdail owns the Lisson Gallery (London, Milan, New York).

Lisson Gallery as per their website
Founded in 1967, the Gallery's list stable of artists represented include Ai Weiwei, Sol LeWitt , Richard Long, and Anish Kapoor. He's reputed to

Looks to me as if it will be a very interesting programme!

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