Art Dealer, Art Broker, Art Agent

What is the Difference Between an Art Dealer, an Art Broker, and an Art Agent?

© 2015 Uriél Dana.

Recently I posted an article on “Common Sense Rules for finding an Art Agent”. A fellow artist asked me a great question. What is the difference between an art dealer, an art broker, and an art agent?  Perhaps my answer to her would be of interest to more than one person.

Based on my 30 years as an artist, an art dealer is a gallery owner. They discover, nurture, advertise, and promote their own “stable of artists” based on their personal taste. (Stable is a term galleries use to refer to the collection of artists they represent).

Art brokers are usually specialists in a particular field; 17th century Italian Drawings or 19th Century Hudson River School, etc. They advise auction houses or help museums organize exhibits assembling work. They help locate additional pieces for large private collections. They are experts on the authenticity of pieces and and advise on current interest work for investment purposes. Brokers often set up an escrow account for multiple clients that are purchasing for investment, a $50 million dollar Monet for example. The work is authenticated by the art broker and possibly stored in a vault till it is resold.

Most of the art agents I have met are former gallery employees or owners whose clients came to trust them enough to know their taste. Often that gallery has closed but the consultant has retained a relationship with the artists represented or their clients. The agent finds artists whose work is in a style they think their client would like they facilitate the sale for a commission. They often place art commercially through designers or architects.

Occasionally one of these fields will cross over into another but that is unusual. A personal example involved a famous rock star who had used a particular art broker for many investments over the years. He had seen an art card of mine of an oil painting co-created with the late Gage Taylor. He called the broker, described our collaborative art. He described us as a husband and wife that painted together on the same canvas and thought we lived in Sausalito. He paid her a fee to locate us based on that information and to arrange a private showing.  This may sound glamorous but he actually turned out to be a bit of a jerk that overstayed his welcome. (Ruined his music for me forever).

Artwork:The Two Antoinettes, Oil on Canvas © 2016 Uriél Dana.

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