By Katya Kazakina, bloomberg.com
Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) – Asher Edelman, the corporate raider turned art dealer, has dressed the windows of his Manhattan gallery in the spirit of the times: “Holiday Super Sale,” one sign says. “Totally Insane!” reads another. “No Kidding!” entices the third.
“All dealers are offering discounts now,” said Edelman. “I am just being open about it.”
The sale, which runs through Dec. 21 at Edelman Arts, offers discounts ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent on works by 20th century masters such as Willem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti as well as the gallery’s contemporary artists.
A canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat is $3.35 million, down 48.5 percent from last year’s asking price of $6.50 million. The unsold paintings by Berlin-based Christopher Winter, whose show just closed at Edelman Arts, were slashed by 40 percent.
John Chamberlain’s sculpture of twisted automobile parts can be picked up for $975,000, down from $1.25 million. A large landscape painting by Alex Katz is now available for $80,000, down from $150,000.
Unlike retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue or Target, advertising discounts and publicizing prices are among the taboos of the art market. Most galleries offer a 10 percent discount on primary market works. Important collectors and museums often get 20 percent off the asking price.
“We are not a boutique,” said dealer Richard Feigen, who specializes in old masters and postwar art. “We don’t put on sales.”
Other dealers are trying to boost sales in a global financial crisis.
“It’s a season when people are shopping for presents for friends and family and I am sure people are trying to capitalize on that,” said artist Thomas Beale.
Honey Space, a nonprofit gallery in Chelsea that Beale founded last year, will hold a three-day sale to raise money for its operations Dec. 18 through Dec. 20. In order to create interest, Beale sent e-mails advertising the works by more than 25 emerging and established artists priced between $10 and $999.
“It’s partly reflecting on the economy right now,” said Beale. And partly, it’s to “appeal to a larger group of people.”
Another Chelsea gallery, Caren Golden Fine Art, sent an e- mail about its new show featuring 12 young artists with an unusual mention of prices – $850 to $6,000.
The exhibition is aptly titled: “The Brand New Deal.”