Laura and I pride ourselves on always being upfront in business dealings even when they are not in our favor – treating people fairly is the right thing to do. There are, however, many stories of shady business practices in the art world. Most are centered on either artists taking advantage of galleries or galleries taking advantage of artists. But here is a tale of how one gallery has taken advantage of another gallery:
Gallery A (yes, I intend to keep it nameless) has an art auction fund raiser during the holidays. Gallery A’s owner solicits donations from other galleries and area artists for art to be auctioned. Gallery B is solicited, and although skeptical, graciously donates a piece (fyi: it was a piece owned by Gallery B – so the artist had already been paid for it).
Three months after the auction, and having never heard from Gallery A if the piece was sold in the auction or not, Gallery B inquires whether it had been sold and to whom (a potential client, possibly?). Gallery A’s owner promises the information will be forthcoming. Days later, Gallery B receives an email from Gallery A simply saying "thanks for the donation." Not the info Gallery A specifically asked for.
Now a little pissed, Gallery B’s owner goes into Gallery A to get the info directly from them. Gallery A’s owner is not there, but a Gallery A employee does let it out that the artwork in question was actually taken by another Gallery A employee – for how much (if anything) is not known. Gallery B again asks for the details in writing for their records and tax documents.
Gallery B is left assuming that 1) Gallery A has no record of the sale at the auction (bad bad bad), 2) the piece was not sold in the auction and Gallery A has not yet returned it (bad bad bad), or 3) someone working for Gallery A helped themselves to an unsold piece from the auction (bad bad bad).
Bottom line… In the name of a charity auction, Gallery A has done some shady business and is not to be trusted again.