Thursday, August 29, 2013


One change we’ve seen creeping into the dealer system in NZ is price lists without prices. In big city galleries in the US and the UK it would not only be most unusual to find the prices displayed but you'd be bloody lucky to get one of the assistants (assuming you could get them to talk to you at all) to tell you any prices at all unless you were ‘known to the gallery.’

This is one of the reasons of course why art fairs have become so popular internationally. Collectors and particularly the art interested public (who previously had no chance of knowing what cost what) can now see the price of almost anything thanks to the unashamed competitive commercialism of the art fair culture.

In New Zealand transparency of pricing, in the primary dealer market anyway, has been the rule rather than the exception. Those sheets on the wall or in plastic folders almost always included the prices although of course deals have always been commonplace and serious collectors, like major buyers anywhere in the world, expect to be able to negotiate a bit of a haircut on the sticker price. But international practice may be taking hold here. Increasingly the prices don't seem to be easily available. From what we can see the Commerce Commission allows that “businesses are not obliged to display prices” but does encourage “businesses to price goods clearly.” Go figure...if you can find them.