This week, Ed takes on the 50-50 split of sales between artists and the dealers (or gallerists) who sell their work. He notes that while the split might seem crazy at first - the artist does all the work and the dealer gets half just for hanging something on the wall for a while - when you factor what a good dealer does for their artists, and what it takes to actually run a business, the numbers start to stack up:
"Because emerging artists are most likely (and understandably) the least likely to understand the business, I took a small survey of youngish) galleries with bare bone staffs and predominantly emerging artists in their stable in New York. They reported that it costs between $6,000 to $12,000 per exhibition for the overhead/rent alone (these are all galleries with relatively modest spaces). This is before the gallerist takes a salary, let alone sees any profit for the business. That means, that with the 50/50 split, those galleries must sell between $12,000 and $24,000 of artwork per exhibition before they even break even. Before they can pay themselves anything. Before they can expand the business and reinvest in more resources to promote their artists."Full post
In the comments (43 of them when I last looked) there wasn't the outrage that I expected, but there were some thoughtful questions. What if an artists introduces a collector to a gallery? How do splits work when an artist has more than one dealer? How do you ask a dealer to do more for their cut without sounding like a high-maintenance problem?