Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Interview with Richard Polsky

(interview archive mp3)

When I first got online in 1999, Artnet was probably the first art site I found (save for the Met, which still amazes me for its treasure trove of endless masterpieces). And perhaps the first writer I consistently read was Richard Polsky and his Art Market Guides. He will be my guest tomorrow on the podcast.

In the eight years I’ve read him, he has told a twisting and evolving tale of how the art market has changed - and how the role of a dealer has survived, just to stay in business. He went from someone who bought work outright (and then sold to the appropriate client) to someone who did his best just to be there to broker the deal. But nowadays, he says it’s all about the auction, which is both good and bad.

In his last article at Artnet, he says it’s harder than ever to make deals and make money. Is it all due to auction? Or could it be that his entertaining I Bought Andy Warhol was a bit too much kiss-and-tell? I should think that it was a double-edged sword, because some people might want to be involved in kiss-and-tells, just waiting for his next book and their 15 minutes.

I’ve always been curious as to how he rates a “buy,” “sell” or “hold.” Some of that has got to be intuition. Some of it is cold hard facts and watching stats – a science. But some of it has just got to be taste and that, as they say, there is no accounting for.

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