Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
We were at an art dinner recently when the gallerist sitting next to us started ranting about one of her artists: apparently he made more money than she did. “It’s just wrong!”, she wailed before consoling herself with a mouthful of the seared foie gras his other gallery was paying for. “Wrong”, we repeated in the way that we do when we want gallerists to feel that we hang on their every last word rather than being forced to reveal that we were, in fact, daydreaming about the time we will win the Oscars for best script, direction and acting in the film of our lives and about the second Oscar ceremony full of weeping people who are inconsolably upset that this year we didn’t show up to collect all our awards for part two of our amazing work because it had become too embarrassing. You have now learned the first two lessons: never let the artist make more money than you do, and never let them know that you are going to be more successful than they are. Oh yes, and a third lesson: try to get other gallerists to pay for your food; you want to impress your artists, but you don’t want to spend money on them. Not if you can help it.
1: Remember that the key to a successful art gallery is having a mixed bag of big-sellers who churn out thousands of works from their in-no-way-similar imitations of Warhol’s Factory and critically acclaimed financial losers. The first are what you are really interested in and will open the flaps of collectors’ wallets so that you can get rid of some of the less saleable stuff and fund the incomprehensible installations created by those critics’ darlings; the second will establish your gallery as a cool brand, but will only allow you to collect the limited funds that museums are able to dispense. Remember: dinner at Nobu for the first lot, quick curry
for the second.
2: Choose your staff responsibly. It’s very simple. Poor people belong in museums, not commercial galleries. Subject all potential staff to a thorough credit check and allow them a little slack if they have wealthy families and/or friends. Sticking to this rule will allow you to pay them nothing, while they, having only to remember to invite their family and/or friends to your private views, won’t complain, because their job doesn’t really seem that hard at all.