The Art Of The Deal

Barbara Guggenheim offers hints on how to benefit from an uncertain art world.

SINCE LAST FALL’S MARKET CRASH, I’ve been swamped with calls from art collectors seeking advice. Buy? Sell? Hold? And more than once I’ve heard, “If only I’d bought the painting you offered me last summer, I’d have lost less in the market and I’d have something beautiful to look at.”

The art world isn’t immune to the plunging economy, but a seller’s market has turned into a buyer’s market, and savvy collectors are seeing this as a period of opportunity.

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BELIEVE IT! Barbara Guggenheim finds inspiration in a new book by Julie Chrystyn.

By Barbara Guggenheim


Many are depressed, scaling back, or falling behind. Yet, there are some people who not only survive but thrive regardless of times and circumstances.

What do they know that the rest of us don’t? As I was pondering the question, I met Julie Chrystyn, a new girl in town. She’s written The Secret Of Life Transformation (Phoenix Books, $25.95), a half how-to, half inspirational book that takes on this issue: How do you create a vision for your life and make that vision a reality?

She combines no-nonsense instructions with interviews with 12 extraordinary individuals-from composer David Foster to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who’ve achieved mind-boggling success against impossible odds. She makes the point it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from-if you have a laser sharp vision, you can get anywhere you want.

As Larry King states in the book’s foreword, believers “create visions far beyond our realities and go for the gold in defiance of obstacles.”

Julie Chrystyn’s own journey is the stuff of fairy tales. A poor kid from rural, formerly-Communist Yugoslavia, she migrated to Chicago. At 12, she underwent radical surgery for severe scoliosis and spent a year in bed in a full-body cast. Told that her lower body might be paralyzed for life, she persevered and, two years later, broke her school’s record by jumping rope 3,789 times. She became a journalist and sought-after ghostwriter for biographies of the rich and famous, married the man of her dreams, bought the publishing company she worked for, and moved into a Bel Air mansion.

She also flies around the world in a $50 million Bombardier. If the world isn’t your oyster – yet – pick up a copy of The Secret Of Life Transformation.


Where Smart Collectors Are Investing Now

By Barbara Guggenheim

Many collectors still see the art world as one of endless opportunity.

Because I’m an art consultant, I’m constantly asked what’s happening in the art world these days. Like most business, it’s been affected by the plunging economy. More than one client has called, crying, “I wish I had bought that painting you offered me six months ago. I wouldn’t have had that money in the market. I would have had SOMETHING I could look at and enjoy.”

But what to do now? That’s the rub. Even seasoned collectors are asking, “Should I buy? Sell? Hold? Or what?” History may be helpful; analyzing the art world over the past ten years may be helpful in understanding how to maximize your spending power while giving your own collection a boost.

The sea change this decade isn’t one of taste, as in the ‘90s…This time, it’s the way business will be conducted.

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The Night a Painting Broke the Nine-Figure Barrier

Sotheby’s launched a new era in art auctions with a single sale in 2004.

By Barbara Guggenheim

We have no Circus Maximus today, no chariot races. But we do have the art auction, which – far from being the staid and reverent affair of popular imagination – furnishes us with one of the few winner-take-all, life-or-death spectacles to be found in civilized society.

Indeed, the bidders at these events are like fashionably dressed gladiators: Some make a lot of noise, rattling their paddles like sabers to attract attention; others bid secretively using pre-arranged signals to the auctioneer. Many are ruthless in their practices. And, as in the Colosseum in ancient Rome, the spectators always want blood.

Looking back on the 25 years that I’ve attended auctions as an art consultant for my clients, one auction stands out in particular as the epitome of cutthroat competition – the night when Sotheby’s sold Picasso’s Boy with a Pipe, the first painting to fetch more than $100 million.

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