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The market for art

March 5, 2009
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RE "SNAP up art at a discount" (Business, Feb. 25), in which Geoff Edgers reports on the bargains at the galleries:

Edgers has mixed up too many levels of selling to present one big picture of art prices and sales. If Robert John Cook can slash prices at his gallery in half, that's because he's selling his own work. When an artist works through a dealer, which is a more standard business arrangement, artist and dealer split the price. In this case, half of half doesn't begin to cover the expenses and overhead for artist or dealer.

Edgers jumps to the auction houses where a Jeff Koons sculpture recently sold for $2 million, about half of what a Koons work had sold for previously. OK, snap that up at a discount, because this is where the art world has inflated, not on Newbury Street, or in SoWa, or in many Manhattan galleries, where overhead eats up most of the profits.

As for Zach Feuer in Manhattan, who has not cut prices: Feuer is not alone; many dealers are holding their ground, and finding other ways to stay in business, such as offering smaller, lower-priced work and, as Edgers notes, payment plans.

Of course I want my dealers to stay in business. But I don't want them turning into Marshalls or Loehmann's. Art is not like produce. It doesn't go bad. I'd rather not show this year than cut my relatively modest prices in half.

Joanne Mattera
Salem

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