News-Antique.com - Nov 12,2015 - A recent conversation with an art dealer got me thinking. He complained about a regular customer who came to his gallery and was reluctant to buy a painting he really loved. The dealer asked why. The customer had found an online record of the previous sale of this particular painting and objected to the profit built into the asking price. The customer walked out confused and hasn't returned.
How far is technology from allowing customers to find the previous sales history of just about any significant object with a touch of their smart phones? Probably not too far- especially in the art business where every object is identified with an artist and title.
Buyers have to realize the value dealers bring to the equation. Parsing the countless stream of mediocre examples and outright fakes by any artist for the truly worthwhile examples is a genuine service. Building a quality collection is nearly impossible without the wisdom and guidance provided by people who have spent their lives learning the material. These same customers wouldn't endeavor to fill their children's cavities even though the steps involved are far fewer. Their is comfort in knowing your dealing with an expert.
Auctioneers need to be aware that attaching themselves to internet broadcasters only exacerbates the problem. All of the dominate broadcasters, as well as Christies, Sotheby's and Skinner all maintain their full sales information online so any sold lot can be easily found with purchase price and full description.
We have endeavored to go another route. While our sales are conducted online we don't have results remaining online in perpetuity. There is no search database allowing that gallery customer to look up any lot ever sold. We know the dealer serves a crucial role in the industry, educating and developing enthusiasm in new collectors.
The November sale at Fairfield Auction will include over 400 lots including a large selection of fine art, culled from various Connecticut estates. The online auction opens for bidding at www.fairfieldauction.com November 4th and closes November 15th. The gallery, located at 707 Main Street in Monroe, Connecticut, will be open for preview Friday and Saturday November 6th and 7th from 11am to 4pm and Friday and Saturday November 13th and 14th, also from 11am to 4pm.