As the direct-to-consumer model for selling art gains ground, where does it leave traditional dealers?

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The direct-to-consumer model has become more and more visible across the industry over the last two decades, with major businesses and brands being offered directly to end users, including Netflix becoming the leading movie content producer. .. The art market remained relatively impervious to such trends due to its highly mediated nature, high transaction costs, and general inviolability. But the power of pandemics and social media has helped break down barriers and transformation is underway.

In 2021, NFTs accelerated peer-to-peer trading, allowing primary artists to sell directly to the general public and collectors through exchanges, as evidenced by the rapid growth of platforms such as OpenSea., Cryptovoxels, LiveArt, Masterworks more. “What we’re seeing is a big mess. The previously well-defined boundaries are blurry,” says Yuki Terase, co-founder of Art Intelligence Global, an international art advisory firm. Mr. says. “Currently, everyone, including artists, wears multiple hats. That’s good because artists are given a larger agency.”

Currently, everyone, including artists, wears multiple hats. That’s good because the artist is given a bigger agency.

Art Intelligence Global, Yuki Terase

Los Angeles-based digital artist Sarah Zucker agrees. She prefers the ability to tell her story and sell directly, without “intermediaries that can slow down or confuse the process.” Again, it’s about agencies and avoids giving 50% of sales to the gallery. “Selling directly to consumers can be beneficial to artists, because they can get more agencies and significantly reduce revenue from our own work,” Zucker said. increase. “The option of self-selection and selling directly to collectors is a great opportunity for artists who would otherwise not be able to enter the more systematic territory of the art world.”

Simon Denny, an artist who has incorporated blockchain technology into his work for several years, unveiled his first work in 2018. Cryptokitties Sold so far — he doesn’t consider his release to be without an intermediary. “When I released the NFT, it was using different types of platforms,” he says. But Denny adds: “These platforms aren’t like galleries in the sense that they have a long-term relationship of reputation, market, career representatives and management. It’s like working with museums and private institutions on a project-by-project basis.” “Because the world of NFTs is much more dynamic and the market itself moves much faster and more unpredictably,” he says.

Industry insiders said that auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s weren’t put up for auction a year ago, but by directly outsourcing artists who have been protracted to daytime sales for years, NFTs are quick. He states that he used the boom. ..

Although Denny is relatively well established, his work is rarely put up for auction.But last year he commissioned Past NFT / Ethereum Stamps (2016-2018-2021) Directly to Sotheby’s Native Digitals: Curated NFT Sale, Sold for $ 37,800. “For NFTs, auction houses are much more often primary sales sites, and their global clients and infrastructure make sense for certain types of NFT-friendly artists to work together,” he said. Says.

What does this trend mean for traditional art galleries? Veteran dealer Dominique Levy remains optimistic. “Without the full partnership and commitment of the gallery, artists cannot have a long-term and deep awareness,” she says. However, galleries still need to reshape their business models and value propositions. German galler Johann König said: “Previously, the only function of the gallery was to distribute and sell the work, but this is no longer required as the artists have direct access. But they still need a place to display their work, and they You need context, consulting, and networking, so you need to change the way you work for an artist as a dealer. “

This gap has also been pointed out by Jehan Chu, an art collector and founder of Kenetic, an early-stage blockchain investment and trading company based in Hong Kong. He predicts that in the event of a recession and bear crypto market, the NFT community will turn out to be too shallow to support the scene. “Looking at the traditional art market, it’s very deep and well supported in auction houses, galleries, private collections, museums, publications and many other areas,” he says. “With a few exceptions such as CryptoPunks, Bored Apes and Art Blocks, most other collectable NFTs are a thin speculative market.”

Some artists and collectors in this new sector are waiting for an intermediary from the traditional art market to intervene because of their all independence. We’ll add curation to add criticism from galleries and institutions, “says Chu. As prices rise, it becomes harder for NFTs to be isolated, as “collectors will help curators and institutions understand why Beeple’s work is worth $ 69.3 million.” He is predicting.

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