Betty Krulik describes her great launch of American art at auction house Phillips de Pury
BETTY KRULIK, OWNER AND DIRECTOR OF BETTY KRULIK FINE ARTS, FOUNDED THE WORKS ON PAPER DEPARTMENT OF AMERICAN ART AT SPANIERMAN GALLERY. THANKS TO HER EFFORTS, THE GALLERY WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN NURTURING THE INTEREST OF GREAT COLLECTORS IN THIS, AT THAT TIME, UNSUPPORTED AREA. BETTY THEN ACCEPTED THE CHALLENGE OF INTRODUCING AMERICAN ART TO THE AUCTION PUBLIC AT THE NEW YORK VENUE OF PHILLIPS DE PURY.
HI BETTY, THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THIS BLOG THUS FAR. YOU ESTABLISHED AN ENORMOUS PRESENCE AND RESPECT FOR AMERICAN WORKS ON PAPER AT SPANIERMAN GALLERY PROMOTING ITS IMPORTANCE AND VALUE AND BUILDING COLLECTIONS IN THIS AREA IN BOTH PUBLIC MUSEUM AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS. AFTER THAT MISSION, YOU TOOK ON THE AUCTION WORLD AND HEADED A NEWLY ESTABLISHED DEPARTMENT OF AMERICAN PAINTING, SCULPTURE AND WORKS ON PAPER AT PHILLIPS DE PURY. THIS TRANSITION MUST HAVE BEEN BOTH EXCITING AND DEMANDING.
I REMEMBER THE FIRST SALE, IN A MARVELOUS BANK ON 57th STREET. YOU BROUGHT IN A WONDERFUL COLLECTION AND WORKS OF FIRST QUALITY? PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE. HOW DID YOU FIND THE AUCTION SECTOR VERSUS THE GALLERY SECTOR?
It was on the heels of some negative press regarding some of the other houses and Phillips, De Pury and Luxembourg came in with gusto. That sale was magic, we were so fortunate! We had a great team, and we were able to get material that was ALL completely fresh, had not been in the market for many years. The Foster collection of Marine Art was a legendary collection, we had works that were from a woman who collected in the 1970’s and had not been seen for 30 years, and several other collections. Our philosophy was to have small sales, and really work them. Since it was right after 9/11, there was great pride in American Art. It was the confluence of what I call the “three C’s” of collecting. We had works in great Condition (untouched), Collections (fresh), and Connoisseurship (quality). That was a Fun sale!!
YOU ARE NOW A MORE PRIVATE, BY APPOINTMENT DEALER, WITH A WONDERFULLY INVITING SPACE ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE. http://bkrulikfineart.com/ WHAT LED TO YOUR DECISION TO GO INTO BUSINESS ON YOUR OWN? WHAT ARE ITS ADVANTAGES AND ITS DIFFICULTIES?
At the time I went private, I wanted the freedom to handle a very high quality level, and not be tied to a desk. I love to travel to see my museum friends and collectors, and this gave me the freedom to do that and to be of greater service to them. I now do appraisals, and consult for them at auctions as well as sell for them, and to them privately.
I do love the Auction business, and now I consult for Leigh Keno on his paintings. I have great variety in my life, and freedom (to work 24 hours a day).
HOW DO YOU FIND INVENTORY AND COMPETE WITH THE LARGER SKILLED GALLERIES? I KNOW THERE ARE ADVANTAGES TO WORKING WITH A SMALLER MORE FOCUSED DEALER. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THEM?
Many of the sellers remember me from the 1980’s, at Christie’s, and I have tried hard to maintain a reputation for honesty and integrity. I have had many loyal clients, and I get recommendations from them.
Because my expenses are much lower than the galleries that have to produce shows, and have a large staff, I can make smaller commissions and end up getting the client the lion’s share of the price. I feel good about the total transparency, and my clients on both the seller and the buyer sides think this is fair. People forget that the Auction houses get 25% on the buyers side and up to 20 on the sellers—almost 50%!)
By the way, I am not a buyer, just a broker…I wish I could afford to buy, but my taste exceeds my budget.
WE HAVE LOOKED AT BOTH PAST AND PRESENT EXPERIENCES IN A VARIETY OF ART MARKET’S SECTORS. NEXT WEEK, WE WOULD WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF THE ART MARKET.