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October 16, 2006

Art Hunting at the Maidstone Club

So now that we've all changed our last names to Guggenheim and Whitney just to get into the great galleries and country clubs..Themaidstoneclub ...It's time for more helpful advice from Lisa Hunter!!

MAO Art Collecting Question #2Every time Muffy & I go to the Maidstone Country Club in East Hampton (I wish!!), our next door neighbors, Prescott and Bittzy, keep bragging about how great their smart Art Consultant is and what great access they have to all the best galleries. She gets them first pick of every hot artists work... My wife, Muffy, has a masters degree in Art History, we think we know a lot about the art world, cause we read Artforum weakly, and have just begun to build a small but "very high quality" collection.  Do you think we should use an Art Consultant?  I've met some art consultants that were totally nuts and clueless. What should Muffy & I expect to pay a consultant? Should we use our friend Bittzy's consultant, and if not.. how do we find a better good one?

Lisa Hunter Answer :  If you know about art and have a high-quality collection, you’re probably doing fine on your own. You only need an art consultant if you a) don’t feel you know enough to choose art on your own, or b) don’t have the “in” to buy the work you want. (And if you’re teeing off at Maidstone, you’re probably pretty well connected already.)

Fees and reputations vary widely. “Art consultant” is a catch-all title that might mean someone who advises David Rockefeller, or someone who helps you pick out a couch-matching acrylic monstrosity at a department store. Ask collectors whose art you admire for referrals. You also want to make sure a consultant can get you the specific artists you crave, because even someone well-connected might not have an “in” with every important dealer. Just as at the Maidstone CC, the art world has cliques, rivalries, ex-lovers who refuse to be in the same room together, etc.

By the way, if you’re buying something other than white-hot contemporary art, dealers themselves will often serve as your art advisor. If they know what you like – and you’re a good client -- they’ll seek out pieces for your collection. For a commission, they’ll even vet art at auction houses for you, and bid on it in the showroom. Museums ask dealers to do this for them all the time. There’s no reason why an individual collector shouldn’t do the same, assuming you need an expert opinion and can afford the commission.

In a strange coincidence, since Lisa & I wrote this Q & A last week... The New York Times ran a much more dull  lengthly article by Mia Fineman this Sunday about just this Art Consultant topic. I guess as they say.. great minds write and read blogs think a like.. but here's the story.. So Check it out.

Oh.. and did I mention Lisa Hunter, has a new great book out??? You can even buy It NOW!  "The Intrepid Art Collector: The Beginner's Guide to Finding, Buying, and Appreciating Art on a Budget"  Right here!

Lisa Hunter Interview Part 3 coming soon! And for those who have no clue about The Maidstone Club..don't worry..you'll never be able to get in it's the most elitist place on the planet.

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I’m a new visitor; I like what you’ve got going on and intend to return; just thought I’d leave a fingerprint.

Mike and Lisa,

Obviously an advisor or consultant is great if you are trying to get the serious high end stuff.

But for most private collectors, a trusted dealer can be a great consultant. A good dealer will listen to what the client wants and if it's not in his/her inventory, they will seek out some options from other sources.

Most dealers know what is going on in other galleries and the auction houses and have a sense of where they might take a client. I do it a lot. It benefits the client because they know I will be honest with them about the value vs. price and if it's a good addition to what they already have.

It benefits me because at least I get a small commission from the dealer which is better than nothing and I have an opportunity to do business with another dealer. It builds my relationship with my client and with a colleague.

Also, I have contact with a lot of young and emerging artists because I constantly look at porfolio's etc. So, if someone is looking for something I don't have I can make some phone calls and get new work in the gallery that most people don't even know about. It creates an opportunity for the collector to get something fresh and less expensive and it gives a young artist an opportunity to sell their work. And again, I build my relationships with both and make some money.

DCFA (even though it says posted by Patrick)

Poor Dr. Quiz. Now he's being called Muffy.....

Hey KennyT..
Yes.. that's true.. poor Dr. Quiz..

But then again, I was calling you and your better/nicer half.. "Prescott and Bittzy"

But who's who????

Better than what you were calling us, I guess.....
And Patrick, being the Shiksa, I guess that makes me Bittzy....

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