Gallery Mogul Goes Mental – artmarketblog.com
You have probably read about the scandal involving gallery mogul Larry Salander and his rather spectacular fall from grace that resulted in his being locked out of his own gallery and being forbidden from selling art anywhere in the world. Salander-O’Reilly Galleries was considered to be one of the world’s top art galleries but has not left owner Larry with a bunch of very angry and out of pocket investors as well as upwards of $100 million of debt. The mistake that Salander made that caused all his problems was a seriously misguided quest to turn people away from contemporary art and towards the old masters.
In a recent interview, the disgraced gallery owner expressed his disgust at the lack of value and importance being put on the old master works of artists like Titian and Tintoretto compared to contemporary artists like Warhol. I am not sure what possessed Salander to undertake this quest nor do I understand what influenced his negative opinion of contemporary art (I can appreciate his love of old masters though) but no matter how passionate he was about his cause or how convinced he was that he was doing the right thing, he was doomed to fail from the beginning.
What Salander underestimated is the impact and momentum that contemporary art has and how extensive the shift from a focus on the art to a focus on the artist has been. The current art market is very much focused on the whole visual arts experience that includes the artist, the artwork, the market and the art scene as opposed to just the object. When people buy contemporary art they are expecting to not only receive an object but also expect to be buying into the excitement of the career of a rising contemporary art star. Larry can go on about the technical skill and beauty of old master paintings all he likes but the fact remains that times have changed and the art market changed and unless he changes his tune he will continue to be left behind.
I make no apologies for my market oriented approach or for championing the commercial focus of the art market but that doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with what Salandar has to say it just means that I am a realist and am not afraid of change (or criticism)
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.