Convention would have it that you often pay a premium to buy from a dealer. In return for the premium, you get the advice, knowledge and reassurance they can provide. However, as a recent experience shows, that’s not always the case.
A dealer that we’ve done business with previously approached us with two paintings by the artist Jules Turkas. Not familiar with his work, I repiled with “please send a photo.” The dealer sent a photo, but for whatever reason it never arrived. I assumed he never got around to sending it, and he assumed we were not interested. The dealer ended up selling the paintings to a third party.
A month or so went by and Hui discovered the paintings at James D. Julia auctions. Lots by this artist don’t come up often, so I assumed they were the same. I sent off a an email to the dealer and confirmed that fact. He appologized for the mis-communication and said he’d much rather have sold them to a retail customer.
The paintings went up for auction today, and together went for about 50 percent more, not including premium or shipping, than the unnegotiated price offered to us. (Interestingly the one I liked the least sold for the most). If they were bought by another dealer, I have little doubt that the price will again be doubled. A lost opportunity for sure!
If you want good deals on paintings or furniture, yes, learn to look on your own in shops and at auctions, but also get to know dealers. Sometimes there is a premium to be paid, but they’d also like to provide good value to their customers.