“When you sell blue-chip art, you always have something to sell,” said Nader, who this week will host an auction, gallery show and exhibition of pieces from Portugal’s Berardo Collection. “The major problem is to replace what you sell.”
Many gallery owners say some buyers still have an expectation for discounts, though amounts vary depending on who the collector is, how many pieces they want and what the benefit could be to the artist. Ten percent is fairly standard, according to experts, and typically split evenly between the artist and gallery.
Miller said she can see her art business reflecting what’s happening in the world, be it economic distress in parts of Europe or natural disasters in the Northeast. One of the latest current events-related changes is good news, she said: an increase in interest from buyers now that the uncertainty of the long election season is over.
“The day after, the phones started ringing and the emails starting coming in,” Miller said.
Here’s a look at the gallery business in Miami-Dade through the prism of five owners around the county:
Miller has seen her client base change again and again since she opened in Coconut Grove in 1974. While her gallery initially drew mostly locals, soon Latin Americans became a large part of her base. In the cocaine cowboys era of the late 1970s, she said, some clients showed up with Rottweilers and loads of cash.
“I just went with it,” she said. “I never knew whether they were associated; I never asked. They wanted to buy art, they loved art, they were nice people.”
She has worked with law firms and major corporations, as well as executives from those companies, on their collections. These days, her audience is global. Miller also works as a broker for secondary works, sometimes on behalf of clients who bought the pieces from her in the first place.
Miller, whose gallery specializes in international contemporary art with an emphasis on Cuban, Latin American and Chinese work, has never applied to Art Basel Miami Beach, but she said many of her clients are in town during the event — and new ones find her. The downside of the fair’s presence, she said, is that clients often hold off on buying from her until they take in all the other works available from galleries in town for the show.
“Gallery owners in Miami have to decide whether to gamble $15,000 to $50,000 plus on a few days’ exposure in an art fair, or to create events in their own gallery and do dealer-to-dealer business going to the various fairs,” she said.
While she has done some satellite fairs in the past, this year she will host a public reception at the gallery for the show that’s running now, COLOR, FORM, SPACE: Abstractions by Bassmi, Michelle Concepción, and Florian Depenthal. And, she said, she’ll go to as many of the fairs, venues and parties as she can to see clients and meet new ones.
A lifelong resident of Miami-Dade from a pioneering family, Miller opened her nearly 4,000-square-foot gallery in Coral Gables in 1981 that she now hopes to expand. She started the monthly Gables gallery night back in 1980, and then resurrected it in 1990 after a five-year hiatus. The event is still running now.
Miller said she is deeply rooted in the community, recalling the year she spent after Hurricane Andrew helping clients with their art and insurance claims when the storm devastated parts of the county. Miller said she is even working with second and third generations of buyers now.