At one point I decided that the cost of accumulating paintings produced and stored over the past 20 years since 1998 and depositing in storage another 25 years since 1974 in Venezuela was simply not worth my efforts to become commercially viable and that I had to dispose of it as best as I could. I looked into 45 auctioneering agencies, including galleries opened to the possibility of selling works on consignment. The latter were the least qualified to my objective. In a matter of a couple months, EBTH contacted me, referred by another agency who represented Estate houses. From the first telephone call I received, I knew EBTH offered the best prospects.
However, there were two aspects in the process that most artists would not agree to:
There were no reserves or minimum for the sales; the bids would begin at one dollar and market competition would call the shots. It meant that if the appeal was based upon the character of the work, works be sold by market demand with just a little bit of marketing support. There was promotion and expertise in describing the work just as any other art outfit would do to promote their stable of artists. By the way, the art department's team is comprised of some of the same staff that does the Road Show for television.
In the process we learned not to be restricted to a single sale but agree to many small groups of ten or a maximum of twenty-four pieces at a time, mixed with other artists over the course of a year an a half: on average every three weeks. We started in January last year with my first contract for over 700 pieces, which still have been selling after 28 auctions. As we speak there are four auctions being processed yet to be released. My work would be mixed with well known artists' from different states, who have already passed for the most part or are mature still-active-mid-career artists.
The team of the art department hired a freelancing journalist (who, by the way used to work in Rome and the Vatican covering cultural events) in order to develop a promotional profile based upon what the team thought would fit in uniquely into my profile, the art work and personal life.
From the start, I was rather combative with the very young reporter's jargon and the art-department's team's effort to establish historical associations or trends, which clashed altogether with my own sense, particularly with the "metaphors of silence" Series and personal manifesto against the very market system of valuation, and how was i to be placed within the marketplace. I wanted to separate from the idea of being a career artist; and wanted to be portrayed, instead, as a lover of my art, separate and apart from the makings of historial career valuations that seem to be the appeal to most art scenes within museum and galleries, even to alternative galleries.
My interest was in pushing for a "well listed" fringe position or the position of an outsider, rather than being a part of the contemporary commerce of art.
When I signed the first contract, I didn't quite understand, nor did I care how the work would be sold. The team told me I would be entitled to 55% of the net profits. The first auction consisted of 203 pieces, which was a disaster, even if the revenues exceeded a sum of 23 thousand dollars. In such a massive sale, paintings belonging to the same Series and same format would sell for disparaging amounts: one would be $1,500 and another $60. In other words, the market-demand when saturated would be quite uneven. But if they sold 10 pieces at a time, the market would respond more homogeneously, and so that approach has led to having equally distributed offerings at any given auction. Initially it served well in understanding how to make the most of the market opportunities at the expense of a huge learning curve.
I just signed my second contract for an additional 30 paintings, when the team truly understood how to mix and promote my work in order to get the best possible result.
So far we have netted $43,000 which was not a great deal of money considering the number of paintings, but it was a respite considering that I was saving over ten thousand dollars in the cost of storage over 5 years. Prior to EBTH at one point I was selling accomplished watercolors (22x30") for $20 a piece, as long as I knew that they went into the hands of some one who cared for them. Now my watercolors sell for over $600 at best or $200 at worst.
But money was never the object. Care was the bottom line, the idea of getting collectors who would preserve the work, not because of value per se: I could care less about the value as long as the opportunity to continue producing was there. The approach was to ask for support in the continuance of my mature years for just $1.
I like to add about EBTH's Art Department and Consignment-auctions that their responsibility includes that of providing any seller of art goods FREE mailing labels for up to 125 lbs per item, crate or bundle to deliver to the auction houses. Unlike many a gallery or museum, once the EBTH's Art Department receives the seller's goods, EBTH's Art Department takes on the fiduciary responsibility to represent the seller in every respect, auctioning and acting as a point of sale that covers all transactions including professionally packaging each item to deliver it to the collector-buyer, who in turn pays for the cost of shipping and handling.
Can you visualize how great this can be for any any artist consigning: not having to deal with any collector-buyer at all?
All one knows about the buyer is an anonymous number. The auctions expand through 5 to seven days, the last day and last minutes bids the outbidding can shift at an enormously rapid pace among bidders, some bidders choosing to preset larger amounts than those disclosed.
If I happened to know that many of my sales were from international buyers was because I had to became involved in a few benign troubles with responses to deliveries to the UK. EBTH however would be reticent to disclose names or addresses. The process was maintained absolutely private.