By: David R. Gabor
I. The Art World Is No Longer A Quiet Place
Decades ago, a former counsel for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City commented that transactions in the art world are generally very "hush-hush" and have always been that way. See Gabor, Deaccessioning Fine Art Works, 36 UCLA L. Rev. 1005 (1989).
Much has changed in the intervening years. Like the now-ubiquitous tallies of weekend movie box office grosses, the ups and downs in the art market, driven by spiking art world prices, increasing art speculation, and an influx of the day-trader mentality into the art world, have become fodder for many major publications. Most recently, the value of a significant portion of the Detroit Institute of Art has made national news headlines, with various creditors and experts jousting over the proper valuation of the artworks, for purposes of potential sale within the context of Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy.
Despite the increasing public fascination with blockbuster art auctions, the rarefied world of the discrete art dealer, quietly buying, selling, or trading works, for any number of reasons, including to shore-up shaky owner finances to help them save face, still very much exists.